• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Family of Orlando man shot by police while sitting in his car is seeking answers after viewing body camera footage

Family of Orlando man shot by police while sitting in his car is seeking answers after viewing body camera footage


Family and loved ones of Derek Diaz, who was fatally shot last week by police in Orlando, Florida, say viewing officers’ body-worn camera footage of the encounter has only left them with more questions.

Diaz, 26, was shot in the early morning hours of July 3 after he was approached by several officers while sitting in a parked car, according to body camera footage released Wednesday by the Orlando Police Department.

In the footage, an officer can be seen approaching Diaz from the driver’s side of the car. After briefly speaking to Diaz, who appears to be complying, the officer opens the car door while telling Diaz to put his hands on the steering wheel. Diaz then reaches his right hand toward the vehicle’s center console before an officer fires what sounds like a single gunshot.

Less than a minute passes between the officer approaching Diaz and the shot being fired, the video shows.

Officers rendered aid to Diaz until first responders arrived and transported him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The footage was shown to Diaz’s family before its release but offered them little closure, family attorney Natalie Jackson said.

“They thought they might get answers,” Jackson said. “What we saw on the video left more questions than answers.”

Among those questions, she said, is why police initially approached Diaz.

Jackson said the video shows Diaz “sitting peacefully in a legally parked car when he was aggressively approached by three armed police officers, and in less than one minute, he was shot.”

In a statement released with the body camera footage, police said Diaz tossed an object out of the window after he was shot “that was later identified as narcotics.”

Orlando Police Chief Eric D. Smith said in a statement that officers “proactively patrol to remove illegal drugs and crime guns” from Orlando streets. He added that the intersection near where Diaz was confronted had seen “431 incidents in the last 18 months.”

Jackson said Wednesday that Diaz was unarmed, and there was not a gun in his vehicle.

Sonja Nava, the mother of Diaz’s young daughter, said Wednesday that the video doesn’t show Diaz committing any wrongdoing.

“All we know from that video is that he was sitting in his car. He was doing nothing wrong. In less than a minute, he was dead,” Nava said while speaking to reporters.

Smith said he and his department “understand the need for answers.”

“Maintaining the integrity of the investigation process is also needed so that the facts are provided fairly and transparently. An investigation involves not only body worn camera video of the incident but also includes the collection of witness testimony,” the police chief said.

The department has not released the names of the officers present during the shooting. The officer who fired was uninjured and has been placed on administrative leave, it said.

The police department is cooperating with a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the incident, Smith said. The department also said it will conduct its own internal investigation.

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