WINTER PARK, Fla. – The family of a man gunned down and killed by police at a Winter Park wedding reception spoke out Tuesday night.
“There were a lot of allegations that was made by the Winter Park Police Department that we find unfounded and without merit. We are looking for transparency in this case. We do feel that this was murder,” said Pastor Carl Soto, co-founder and vice president of Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc.
The incident transpired when police officers responded to the Winter Park Events Center around 9:30 p.m. Saturday after receiving a 911 call from someone the victim’s family claims was working at the event. The caller described a man assaulting other wedding guests.
“He’s grabbing an older woman and shoving her,” said the 911 caller. “He’s grabbing people’s necks and like it’s an older woman.”
Soto said the family doesn’t know why the woman made the call, deeming her allegations “baseless” and “meritless.”
“We listened to that 911 call. We are in the process of trying to locate this this woman who made this call. All the witnesses that I spoke to indicated that (Daniel Patrick Knight) was not doing anything of that sort,” Soto said. “There is a report that this woman may have had a disagreement with one or two of the patrons that were there at the reception, and that may have pissed her off to the point where she felt she needed to call 911.”
It’s a call Patricia Keeby, the victim’s mother and older woman the family assumes the caller is referring to, disputes. She said her 39-year-old son, who police later killed after they said he attacked two officers, didn’t touch anyone.
“He was such a loving man. He didn’t do nothing to me. I asked him to sit me down (that night) because my feet was hurting and that’s why he hugged me—to sit me down,” Keeby said.
According to Winter Park Police Department, Knight began fighting with a responding officer, punched him in the face and knocked him unconscious. A second officer then said he deployed a Taser on Knight to no avail, prompting him to draw his gun and fire.
Family members say that story doesn’t add up, claiming no officer was knocked unconscious.
“He was killed in front of me. His blood was all over my wedding dress,” recalled Janisha Paul, the bride whose wedding night is now forever tied to her uncle’s death. “I’m a nurse. I’m a registered nurse. A lot of the guests that were there were also in healthcare. They assisted in doing everything that they could to help him and I wish that he was here.”
Trina Knight, his sister, also says she was with her brother when the police ran up to him. According to her, the responding officers didn’t question any witnesses at the reception before approaching her brother.
“Family members are claiming that it was so dark, that they weren’t even able to even recognize that those were police officers,” Soto said. “They never announced themselves and they came so fast that it was very little time for Daniel to properly react.”
The officers involved in the incident were also taken to a hospital and have since been released. The officer who shot Knight was placed on administrative duty, according to a news release.
It’s something the family says isn’t enough.
“We demand that these officers be arrested and charged with murder,” Trina Knight said.
Knight’s family is in the process of seeking legal representation, Soto said.
The exact name of the potential attorney and law firm representing the family has not been announced yet.