After a week of stonewalling, the Osceola County Sheriff's Office finally saw fit to release some information about their deadly shooting of a 20-year-old Jayden Baez.
The young man, along with three others, came into contact with OCSO deputies who were training nearby. They spotted Baez's vehicle and marked it as suspicious, claiming a piece of paper was concealing the license plate. Target employees accused two members of the group of stealing Pokemon cards and pizza. Deputies saw two of the men get into a vehicle and ended their training exercise to confront them.
What happened next can be seen in part on store surveillance footage shared by Sheriff Marcos Lopez. Four unmarked police vehicles pull up aggressively and box in the car in question. The car attempts to accelerate past the OCSO vehicles, ramming them as officers wearing bulletproof vests spill out and behind the fleeing car. Only one of the four cars is visibly flashing police lights in the clip. Officers wearing vests with "Sheriff" written on them can be seen but they are standing behind the car. There is no audio and it's unclear if deputies announced themselves.
The deputies fired into the vehicle, killing Baez and injuring two others. Lopez claims a handgun was removed from the car after the incident and shared a photo of the weapon. Lopez shared a posthumous list of charges for Baez that included a charge for carrying unlicensed firearm. Whether or not Baez had a concealed weapon permit is not a matter of public record under Florida law.
Lopez claimed in a news conference on Monday that deputies in front of the vehicle "verbally shouted the words 'Stop! Sheriff's Office!'" None of the deputies were wearing body cameras, a fault Lopez attributed to the training exercises they were running before the confrontation.
Attorney Mark NeJame, who is representing the families of Baez and another man injured in the incident, said that Lopez was trying to "deflect responsibility and liability for [the office's] dangerous and deadly policies."
"The sheriff well knows that police box-in procedures require law enforcement vehicles to hit the targeted vehicle as to box them in so they cannot move," NeJame said in a press release. " The Osceola County Sheriff’s office’s policies are dangerous and misguided and they created this deadly situation by their actions."
NeJame added that the coordinated nature of the box-in maneuver makes the lack of body cameras suspicious.
"The failure of the deputies involved to wear body cameras is a complete and total violation of transparency, as has so often been promised. The deputies knew they were going to be involved in a criminal investigation, and accordingly should have put on their body cameras," he said. "They had time to enter their vehicles, call fellow deputies, and coordinate their activities. They had time to put on their vests, according to the Sheriff. Why did they not take the extra seconds to strap on their body cams?"
Surveillance footage can be viewed below.
Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly newsletters, and consider supporting this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you Central Florida news, and every little bit helps.