ORLANDO, Fla. - While the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates a shooting incident involving Osceola County sheriff's deputies outside a Kissimmee Target that left one man dead, a law enforcement and training expert is weighing in on the matter.
"Shouldn’t have happened," said David Thomas, a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, who was a police officer for 20 years.
Jayden Baez, 20, was killed and 19-year-old Joseph Lowe was seriously injured. They were with two other guys that night.
"As we understand it, four young men went to Target. Two of them are our clients. They were accused and suspected of a petty theft," said Orlando Attorney Mark NeJame.
NeJame’s law firm is representing Lowe and the Baez family. He says deputies followed the two accused shoplifters in the Target store but didn’t try stopping them until they got back into the car.
Osceola Co. Sheriff Marcos Lopez says his deputies were training near the Target – that’s why they were in tactical gear without body cameras when they responded.
"This is all still under investigation, but from what we understand far, the vehicle had been stopped by the officers who had rammed into it and performed the box in maneuver. Immediately after that the officers exited the vehicle and began opening fire into the windshield," said attorney Albert Yonfa.
Thomas says this whole incident could have been prevented. First, he says the deputies in training should not have responded to such a low-level call.
Second, he says if deputies were following the men inside Target, they should have been stopped sooner.
"Once a vehicle becomes mobile, it creates a whole series of problems for law enforcement," Thomas explained.
On top of that, Thomas says deputies should have called for a marked car to make the traffic stop once the suspects got into the car.
The sheriff has yet to say why his deputies pulled the trigger, citing the ongoing FDLE investigation.