Black Lives Matter addresses deadly Osceola deputy shooting at Target

Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc. demanded criminal charges for deputies involved, discussed case details

Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc. demanded criminal charges for deputies involved, discussed case details

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc. held a news briefing Tuesday afternoon on the deadly deputy shooting that occurred outside an Osceola Target last month.

The 4 p.m. briefing was held outside the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, during which the Polk County-based organization demanded criminal charges be lobbed against the deputies involved in the incident resulting in the death of 20-year-old Jayden Baez and the injuries of Edwin Lowe, 19, and Michael Samuel Gomez, 18.

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“We have reviewed evidence that reflects that at the time of the shooting, the 3 men did not pose a threat to the public nor the deputies involved with the shooting and we find that the death of Mr. Baez is in fact murder,” group officials said in a news release. “We are aware that Mr. Lowe and Mr. Gomaz (sic) were each charged with ‘petty theft’ for their behavior that allegedly occurred inside of the Kissimmee area Target however petty theft is a misdemeanor and Mr. Baez did not deserve to die over $47 dollars worth of Pokémon cards and a pizza.”

They said they wanted to support the Baez family after speaking with them, by providing resources and assistance them, and echoing their sentiment that it wasn’t right that an alleged shoplifting incident led to gunfire.

“These officers chose to behave in violence over pizza and Pokémon cards,” said Pastor Carl Soto, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk, Inc.

The organization further expressed it was “calling on the office of the state attorney and the (Department of Justice) to conduct an independent investigation into the incident and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office,” in addition to the investigation being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

This comes as the Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell told News 6 Tuesday she can’t discuss this case now, specifically because of the ongoing investigation. Worrell did add, however, that she recently created a policy where her office will also conduct an independent investigation of incidents of force to supplement the review done by the FDLE.

“I cannot emphasize enough that we are looking at every single case on an individual basis and ensuring that every single question is asked and answered,” Worrell said. “We do look critically at every single incident to ensure that there isn’t any illegal activity and when we find illegal activity we do look forward and prosecute.”

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Tuesday before the news conference:

“Sheriff Marcos Lopez is a big supporter of the First Amendment. Individuals have a right to peaceably protest. Sheriff Lopez will not be commenting on any aspect of the officer involved shooting as it is currently being handled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and remains an open investigation. Sheriff Lopez is asking the community for their patience as we wait for the investigation to be completed.”

This comes after the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office released documents, pictures and video of the incident showing a car ramming into four deputy vehicles before two deputies opened fire, killing Baez and injuring Lowe and Gomez.

About the Authors:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.