Vice documentary to feature Orange County deputy-involved shooting of Salaythis Melvin

22-year-old fatally shot by deputy on Aug. 7, 2020

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A new episode of the Vice documentary series will include coverage of Salaythis Melvin, the 22-year-old man fatally shot in the back at the Florida Mall last year by an Orange County deputy.

Carlus Haynes and Bradley Laurent, attorneys for Melvin’s family, will talk about the fatal deputy-involved shooting at the Florida Mall and use of body camera video by law enforcement.

The trailer for the Vice episode airing Sunday at 8 p.m. on Showtime also includes interviews with Orange County Sheriff John Mina and Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

[MORE COVERAGE: New video doesn’t offer insight into what led to deputy fatally shooting Salaythis Melvin | Body camera video shows deputy shooting man in back at Florida Mall | ‘Make them think twice:’ Family of man killed by deputy demands policy changes]

According to the episode description, Vice journalist Krishna Andavolu “investigates body camera functionality, usage, legislation and impact.”

In a trailer for the upcoming episode, Andavolu is shown interviewing Mina. He asked the sheriff, “We’ve got the footage but there is no accountability. Why is that?” The video clip did not show Mina’s response.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office media relations confirmed it did participate in the Vice documentary interview.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office Agent James Montiel opened fire on Melvin on Aug. 7 outside the Florida Mall as the 22-year-old was running away across the parking lot.

The sheriff said the incident began when deputies tried to approach a group of four individuals outside Dick’s Sporting Goods because one of the men had an active warrant for his arrest and was also a person of interest in a triple shooting that occurred in Pine Hills in July.

That warrant was not for Melvin and deputies did not know who he was, even asking his name after he was shot, body camera video shows.

Mina said Melvin had a stolen Glock handgun. When deputies approached, the 22-year-old ran away and toward Montiel, who got out of his unmarked vehicle and saw Melvin holding a stolen Glock handgun, records show.

“At the end of the day, he did not deserve to be shot in the back. You shoot animals running from you. You don’t shoot people,” Haynes said about a week after the shooting.

Attorneys for Melvin’s family were critical of the sheriff’s office when the body camera of the shooting was not released in the days immediately after the fatal encounter.

Hours of body camera video released by the sheriff’s office video have 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.

Body camera footage was released on Aug. 18, 2020, 11 days after the 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.

Public outcry was swift following the deputy-involved shooting. Protesters marched outside the Florida Mall calling for justice and transparency.

In January, the sheriff’s office unveiled a new body-camera video policy.

Under the new policy, 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.”

State law enforcement officials completed their investigation into the fatal deputy-involved shooting in November and delivered its investigation to the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office.

State prosecutors are reviewing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement findings to determine if there is any cause to charge the officer who killed Melvin.

As of March 19, a decision has not been made by State Attorney Monique Worrell’s office on the case, according to a spokesperson.

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