Unarmed Man Shot By Police While Getting Cigarette From Car
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WARRINGTON, Fla. (CBS Tampa) - An area resident who was standing in his own driveway was shot by two police officers who thought he was threatening them.
The man, 60-year-old Roy Middleton, told the Pensacola News-Journal that he had gone to his mother’s car at around 2:40 a.m. Saturday. While out there, he began to search the car for a loose cigarette.
That was when two deputies from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office got involved.
“Get your hands where I can see them,” Middleton recalled them saying while telling his side of the story to the paper.
At first, he thought a neighbor said it to him in jest. He soon learned otherwise when he saw Deputies Jeremiah Meeks and Matthew White standing in his driveway. They had been responding to a 911 call regarding a possible burglary in the area, the paper learned, when they happened upon Middleton rummaging through the car.
Accounts differ in regards to what happen next.
Middleton stated that, when he emerged from the car with his hands up, the police saw light reflecting off of a metal flashlight on his mother’s keys and opened fire. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told the News-Journal during a press conference that Middleton had made a lunging motion, and that the officers “fear[ed] for their safety.”
The incident has brought a significant amount of negative attention to the Sheriff’s Office, especially due to the fact that Middleton is black. Outraged people have made their opinions known on social media, the paper learned.
Middleton will have to have a metal rod put into his leg due to the severity of the injuries to his left thigh. His mother’s car also sustained significant damage – family members told the paper that the car is riddled with bullet holes, and that 17 shell casings were found near the scene of the incident.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is said to be investigating the matter, and has placed the deputies involved on paid leave in accordance with their policies regarding shootings involving deputies.