Investigation clears Orlando officers of excessive force in Markeith Loyd arrest

A state attorney's review found that Orlando police officers were justified under Florida's "stand your ground" law in their use of force during the apprehension of a suspect wanted for killing an officer.

Seminole-Brevard State Attorney Phil Archer said in a statement Wednesday that no further action will be taken by his office.

Helicopter footage of the January 2017 arrest of Markeith Loyd appeared to show officers kicking him in the head when he crawled from under a house during an extensive manhunt. Loyd lost an eye due to injuries sustained in the arrest.

A lengthy investigation into excessive force by the state determined that officers were lawful in the arrest that included multiple kicks and punches.

"I, as the chief then, didn't absolve them of anything, but I knew a lot of the facts of the case, and I knew that they were dealing with probably one of the most dangerous criminals we've ever had here," said Orange County Sheriff' John Mina, who served as Orlando Police Chief at the time of Loyd's arrest.

Archer outlined the reasoning for his decision in a 10-page report, hinging on the "stand your ground" defense.  The law justifies using deadly force if the person believes using the force will prevent death or harm to themselves or someone else. The state concluded that Loyd posed a significant danger by not surrendering, wearing a bulletproof vest and not complying with officers.

"There were numerous opportunities, numerous commands given," said Sheriff Mina.

Loyd's criminal background and alleged crimes added to the perceived threat, Mina said.

"We're not talking about a shoplifting arrest.  This was a very violent, dangerous criminal," said Sheriff Mina.

Considering all that was known by the officers, any cautious and prudent person would have believed the danger could only be avoided by using the force, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Orlando Police released a statement, which read in-part, "We certainly appreciate the thoroughness and due diligence that SA (State Attorney) Archer and his staff have given to this investigation. With the State Attorney's Office investigation now complete, the Orlando Police Department's internal affairs investigation will continue."

Pastor Jake Stovall, of God Is Able Outreach, is a personal acquaintance of Loyd.  He said he supports the conclusion of the investigation but points out that only the officers know the truth.

"Could it have been avoided or was it intentional? Only the officers know that, know the answer to that, was it intentional or was they doing what they thought was best to hurry up and get a violent person off the streets," said Pastor Stovall.

Loyd's attorney, Terence Lenamon reacted to the conclusion, saying, "You can't publish what I really want to say."

Loyd faces first-degree murder charges in the December 2016 shooting of his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon and the January 2017 death of Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton as she attempted to arrest him.