On Thursday, the new state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties announced his first major policy change since taking office.
Channel 9 broke the story Wednesday that Andrew Bain will send all law enforcement use-of-force cases to a grand jury.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina was among the over a dozen law enforcement representatives there as Bain formally announced the policy change.
Bain said the first case that will go before a grand jury in this new process is the Osceola County Target shooting where Osceola County deputies shot three teens after they were accused of stealing Pokemon cards and pizza. One of those teens died in the shooting and the deputies involved have waited over a year for a decision on that case.
According to Bain, after a use of force incident occurs, an independent review will happen that will provide initial findings. Next, a subject matter expert will provide an opinion to the state attorney’s office on whether it was justified, and within 60 days the state attorney must convene a grand jury in the county where it occurred.
“The idea is not just pushing it off to a grand jury but to foster a conversation,” Bain said.
Mina provided Channel 9 the following statement regarding the policy change:
“The men and women of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office go out every single day and protect this community at great risk to their own lives. More and more people are carrying firearms, and this year alone, 35 law enforcement have been killed by gunfire in the line of duty. In our own community, two OPD officers were shot and wounded just last month.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office believes strongly in transparency, which is why we release body worn camera footage within 30 days of all critical incidents.
The use of deadly force is extremely rare. We are the largest agency in Central Florida, respond to 1.2 million calls for service and make nearly 18,000 physical arrests every year and we have not had a deadly force incident in more than a year.
That said, I have no issue with deputy-involved shootings being reviewed by a grand jury.
Our only issue with the three previous State Attorneys was the length of time it took to make charging decisions in these cases. That process would often take a year or more. That’s not fair to the law enforcement officer, the suspect or family. It’s also not fair to the community – which rightly is seeking answers in these cases.
I applaud State Attorney Bain for his commitment to streamlining this process.”