On Tuesday, Orlando Weekly reported that the Osceola County, Florida Sheriff's Office is trying to justify why their deputies gunned down a Jayden Baez, a 20-year-old man, at a Kissimmee Target for allegedly stealing Pokémon cards.
However, there is little corroboration for the excuse they are providing.
"The young man, along with three others, came into contact with OCSO deputies who were training nearby," reported Alex Galbraith. "They spotted Baez's vehicle and marked it as suspicious, claiming a piece of paper was concealing the license plate. Target employees accused two members of the group of stealing Pokémon cards and pizza. Deputies saw two of the men get into a vehicle and ended their training exercise to confront them."
"What happened next can be seen in part on store surveillance footage shared by Sheriff Marcos Lopez," said the report. "Four unmarked police vehicles pull up aggressively and box in the car in question. The car attempts to accelerate past the OCSO vehicles, ramming them as officers wearing bulletproof vests spill out and behind the fleeing car. Only one of the four cars is visibly flashing police lights in the clip. Officers wearing vests with 'Sheriff' written on them can be seen but they are standing behind the car. There is no audio and it's unclear if deputies announced themselves."
According to the report, the sheriff's office verbally shouted for Baez to stop and identified themselves as deputies, only for him to ignore commands, which was when they shot into his vehicle, killing him. However, none of the deputies were equipped with body cameras.
Florida law enforcement have been involved in a number of use-of-force controversies. In February, a Florida court overturned the conviction of a North Miami officer who shot a therapist while aiming for his autistic patient who was holding a toy. And in April, body camera footage showed another officer pistol-whipping a Black DUI suspect in the face with a Taser and spitting on him.
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