Lakeland PD: Officers who shot at teen followed protocol
LAKELAND, Fla. (FOX 13) - An officer's split-second decision is now being mulled over by investigators.
"What they have to think about in a snap, we think about for days, and question their very actions," said Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens.
The State Attorney's office and Lakeland Police Department are in the midst of investigating the officer-involved shooting that left 17-year-old Michael Taylor dead during the early morning hours of December 26.
Lakeland Police had been called to Salem's restaurant at the corner of North Florida and Memorial to disperse a large crowd gathered outside when they spotted a black Camaro which had been reported stolen.
Taylor was allegedly behind the wheel.
A 42-second surveillance video shows the seconds leading up to the shooting. Police released it Wednesday night.
"We knew there would be a lot of questions not only about the officer's actions but also what the suspect did to cause this tragedy to occur," Giddens said.
The video shows officers approach with guns drawn. That's when they say the driver - Michael Taylor - accelerated "aggressively" toward an officer.
That officer jumped out of the way and opens fire.
Two other officers also shot at the car, though it's unclear how many shots were fired. Giddens says based on the video, his officers followed the department's policies.
"They were using good tactics," Giddens said. "There were several officers there, they were giving verbal commands."
Thursday morning, Giddens met with two men from the Lakeland area chapter of the NAACP.
"I was concerned that so many shots were fired in the immediate vicinity," said Reginald Ardis, the president of the Lakeland NAACP chapter. "Just looking at the video, I felt that there was a possibility that maybe the police could have moved in and blocked the entrance. I thought that might have been some consideration that be put in place."
The two plan to continue communication on the matter.
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"We're moving forward in a cooperative relationship to address some of the root causes of this," said Giddens.
"There's nothing good that's going to happen at 2:30 in the morning, with a 17-year-old kid," Ardis said. "Parents have to be more proactive and keep their kids home."
The police department does this investigation in cooperation with the State Attorney's Office, which has the final authority to render the officer's actions justified or not.
It's an investigation that could take months to complete.