ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – More than 20 protesters gathered before Orange County commissioners met Thursday afternoon.
Demonstrators have been protesting for weeks following the shooting death of 22-year-old Salaythis Melvin, who was shot in the back by a sheriff’s deputy. According to an affidavit the deputy claimed he believed Melvin was going to pull a gun from his waistband.
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Commissioners approved a $4.8 billion budget and an increase of $15 million to the sheriff’s office. In remarks before the vote, activists spoke out.
“I urge you to take immediate action, to support black lives matter, to uproot systematic racism to protect our communities and reject a $15 million increase to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.”
Some demanded that funds should be pulled from law enforcement.
“We want justice for Salaythis Melvin, he was shot and killed, you know at the Florida Mall,” another speaker said.
Sheriff John Mina challenged the calls to defund the sheriff’s office and said that is not the way to go.
He said it would cut into de-escalation training and body-worn cameras.
“Some of the consequences of defunding law enforcement is response times,” Sheriff Mina said.
The second and final budget hearing is set for Sept. 24. Sheriff Mina said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the death of Melvin and should complete their report in 60 days.