ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – In the days after an Orange County deputy shot Salaythis Melvin in the back outside the Florida Mall, members of the community protested in Melvin’s memory and demanded that video be released to show what led to the fatal gunfire.
Body camera footage was released on Aug. 18, 2020, 11 days after the Aug. 7, 2020 shooting, but it was too far away to tell whether Melvin was reaching for a gun, as deputies claimed he did.
More video released on Aug. 26, 2020 showed first responders trying to help Melvin as he laid bleeding in the parking lot.
Like the footage before, that video provided little insight into the shooting itself. The agent who shot 22-year-old Melvin didn’t have his body camera activated at the time.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said the situation was tricky because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was reviewing the deputy-involved shooting, which is standard procedure.
Then on Oct. 8, 2020, he requested that the Orange County citizen’s advisory committee meet to review language in a body worn camera policy pertaining to the release of body worn camera footage in deputy-involved shootings.
Now, months later, the sheriff’s office has unveiled a new policy that went into effect on Tuesday.
According to that document, video must be released within 30 days of any “critical incident,” including deputy-involved shootings, in-custody deaths “and any other incident where the sheriff determines that release of video recordings is required to promote transparency.”
A reason for delay will be disclosed if the video cannot be released within a month.
Before the footage is made public, the deputies involved, the subject involved, legal counsel and other law enforcement agencies that assisted will be able to review the videos.
You can read the new policy in its entirety below.