ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, covering Orange and Osceola counties, will independently investigate police officer or deputy-involved shootings in addition to the review conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
State Attorney Monique Worrell’s office issued a statement Thursday, a day after Orange County Sheriff’s Office officials confirmed the deputy who was on leave after fatally shooting a 22-year-old man last summer was back on active duty.
Deputy James Montiel shot Salaythis Melvin last August outside the Florida Mall as the man was running away from plain-clothed deputies. Body camera video shows Melvin running in the parking lot before falling to the ground after Montiel fired his gun. The sheriff’s office confirmed Montiel fired the fatal shot.
As per OCSO policy, Montiel was place on paid administrative leave while an independent investigation by FDLE was conducted into the shooting. On Wednesday, a spokesperson with the agency said Montiel is back on full duty and working in an investigative capacity in the office’s criminal investigations division.
FDLE completed its investigation and turned over its findings to the state attorney’s office on Nov. 5, 2020. Worrell assumed office in January. It’s now up to her office to determined based on the FDLE findings if the deadly use of force was warranted.
Moving forward, Worrell’s office will conduct an independent investigation of incidents of force alongside FDLE, according to a news release.
“Having FDLE and the (state attorney’s) office involved with the investigations best ensures the integrity of, and public confidence in, whatever conclusions are eventually reached,” the release read. “This is also an important component to protecting the reputation of individual officers and their departments, should the investigation clear law enforcement of any wrongdoing. This will help build community trust, assure transparency, guide community perception, and lend credibility to decisions that the Office must make.”
Worrell’s office also acknowledged Montiel’s return to active duty but said her office has no administrative authority over personnel of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The state attorney’s office has not yet determined if it plans to charge Montiel in connection with the shooting. A timeline for when the review of the FDLE findings will be complete was not included in the news release.