FDLE turns Salaythis Melvin shooting probe over to state attorney’s office

David Harris, Orlando Sentinel

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement this week turned its findings over to the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office in its investigation of the death of Salaythis Melvin, who was killed by an Orange County deputy sheriff.

Prosecutors will determine whether Deputy James Montiel should be charged with a crime or acted within Florida law when he shot Melvin, who deputies say had a gun, in the back as Melvin fled through the parking lot of the Florida Mall on Aug. 7.

“Our case remains active and this is part of our normal process for officer involved shooting cases,” FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger wrote in an email.

The shooting death of the 22-year-old man prompted protests and demands for police accountability. Melvin’s family has said the shooting was unjustified and they plan to sue the agency.

The incident began when undercover Orange County deputies were trying to arrest Melvin’s friend, Vanshawn Sands, who had a warrant for his arrest for felon in possession of a firearm.

Sands, Melvin and two other people were leaving Dick’s Sporting Goods when a flurry of plain clothes deputies rushed in to arrest Sands. Melvin, who deputies said was holding a gun in his waistband, took off running. Montiel said he feared Melvin was going to shoot him because Melvin turned his head while running, according to an OCSO report.

Montiel opened fire, hitting Melvin in the back.

Melvin was taken to the hospital, where he died.

The only body-worn camera footage that captured the shooting was from a far-away deputy who was driving toward the scene. Montiel was not issued a body cam.

Court documents say Sands is the second in command of the 438 gang, which has been in a months-long dispute with the All Family No Friends gang. Clashes between the gangs have been tied to several homicides and shootings. Sheriff John Mina said Melvin also was a member of the 438 gang, a claim that his family’s attorneys deny.

Sands remains at the Orange County Jail.

dharris@orlandosentinel.com

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