Family members of Derek Diaz, a 26-year-old man who was fatally shot by the police in Orlando, Florida, are left with more questions and seek justice after viewing the body camera footage of the encounter.
Body Camera Footage of Orlando Police Shooting
The incident occurred in the early morning hours of July 3 when Diaz was approached by multiple officers while sitting in a parked car. The Orlando Police Department released the body camera footage on Wednesday, shedding some light on the events leading to Diaz’s death, CNN reported.
According to the body camera footage, an officer approached Diaz from the driver’s side of the vehicle. After a brief exchange, where Diaz appeared to be compliant, the officer opened the car door and instructed Diaz to place his hands on the steering wheel.
However, Diaz reached towards the center console with his right hand, and at that moment, an officer fired what seemed to be a single gunshot. The body camera footage shows that less than a minute passed between the officer’s approach and the firing of the shot.
The Orlando Police Department identified the officer who shot Diaz as Jose Velez, a three-year veteran of the department. Velez was unharmed and has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.
Officers provided aid to Diaz until emergency responders arrived and transported him to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the police.
In a statement accompanying the body camera footage, the police mentioned that Diaz had thrown an object out of the window after being shot, and it was later identified as narcotics.
Orlando Police Chief Eric D. Smith, in his statement, emphasized that the officers proactively patrol to combat illegal drugs and firearms in the city. He also noted that the intersection where Diaz was confronted had experienced 431 incidents in the past 18 months. Contrary to the police statement, Jackson asserted that Diaz was unarmed, and there was no gun in his vehicle.
Family Seeks Justice After Watching Body Camera Footage
Diaz’s family attorney, Natalie Jackson, stated in a news release that the body camera footage did little to bring closure to the family. She expressed their hope that the body camera footage would provide answers but instead raised more questions. One of their main concerns is why the police initially approached Diaz.
Jackson further elaborated that the body camera footage depicted 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.”
Sonja Nava, the mother of Diaz’s young daughter, addressed reporters on Wednesday, stating that the body camera footage did not show Diaz engaging in any wrongdoing.
Chief Smith acknowledged the need for answers and stated that they are committed to maintaining the integrity of the investigation process. He emphasized the importance of a fair and transparent presentation of the facts. The police chief mentioned that the investigation involves not only the body camera footage but also the collection of witness testimony.
The Orlando Police Department is cooperating with an investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and they will also conduct their internal investigation into the incident, according to Chief Smith.