TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and the family of a man who was shot and killed by a Titusville police officer spoke Friday, demanding to see the body camera video of the shooting days after the officer was arrested.
James Lowery, 40, was fatally shot in December by Officer Joshua Payne, one of multiple officers who responded to a 911 call reporting a man was attacking a woman along South Deleon Avenue, police said.
“(When we got involved with this case) it was clear to us that a shot to the back of the head, nothing else needs to be said” Crump said. “That is unjustified. That is unjustified. You can’t justify shooting a man in the back of the head as he’s running away from you. You’re no threat, running away from an officer.”
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The Brevard-Seminole State Attorney’s Office this week announced a manslaughter charge against Payne. He surrendered to authorities on Wednesday.
Crump called on the state attorney to release the body camera video from the shooting.
“We still haven’t seen the video. They had that video day one, but it took almost six months for them to finally bring charges against this officer,” he said.
Crump released the following statement after the announcement.
According to the state attorney’s office, Payne claimed Lowery looked similar to the suspect — though it was later determined Lowery was not even involved — and the officer attempted to question him.
Lowery ran away, according to the release, and Payne tried to stop him with his Taser, but it had no effect, the state attorney said.
Lowery managed to climb a fence, at which point Payne pulled his firearm and tried to climb the fence while also holding his Taser and gun, the release said. The officer fired a single shot in the process, which killed Lowery, records show.
“They tried to say ‘Oh, he was involved in a domestic battery on a woman. That’s why we killed him.’ Wasn’t that the first story we heard? And then they can say, ‘Oh, well, he struggled with the police.’ That was the second story we heard. And then finally, we had to uncover the truth ourselves about it being a shot to the back of the head. And so we’ve said it before, we need to see the video because you all have a right to see the video.”
News 6 checked Titusville Police Department’s policy on firearms and didn’t see any explicit language that specifically says whether officers can deploy both weapons simultaneously.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the shooting and turned over its evidence to the state attorney’s office on May 6.
After reviewing the evidence, the state attorney decided to pursue a manslaughter charge against the officer.
No trial date has been set.