KISSIMMEE, FL – Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez has released surveillance footage of the events leading up to the shooting and killing of the driver of a car that rammed agency vehicles in a Target parking lot last month in Kissimmee.
The man at the wheel of the black Audi, Jayden Baez, was the apparent getaway driver for suspected shoplifters who had been observed taking low-value merchandise without paying for it.
Baez, 20, was shot and killed after he rammed the car into four Osceola County Sheriff’s Office vehicles and barreled toward law enforcement officers in the group’s attempt to flee.
The other people in the car were Joseph Lowe, Michael Gomez and an unidentified juvenile male.
The department vehicles were unmarked but had their blue and red lights running as the agents boxed in the car, which had been backed into a handicapped parking spot.
Lopez, defending his department, deputies and detectives against a threatened multimillion-dollar lawsuit by the lawyer representing Baez’s family, held a press conference May 9 to release photos, video and statements about the circumstances leading up to the April 27 shooting in this agricultural/tourist county.
The sheriff was unable to release all the information regarding the shooting itself while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducts an independent investigation.
Lopez called out Central Florida criminal defense and personal injury attorney Mark NeJame for inciting outrage through public statements which Lopez called misinformation. The sheriff told reporters:
“There has been misinformation published. This information was shared by people who have potential financial motivation and obvious goals to talk quickly and loudly before the facts are established.
“I believe that our citizens can be patient while we conduct and conclude the investigations, and I am committed to providing the citizens of our community reliable information at the conclusions of those investigations. I thank the citizens of Osceola County for their trust.”
The 20-year-old man who was shot and killed by deputies outside a Target in Kissimmee drove toward the deputies and collided with at least four law enforcement vehicles prior to the shooting, Osceola County Sheriff Marco Lopez said Monday. https://t.co/PKmc9zfRRA
— FOX 35 Orlando (@fox35orlando) May 10, 2022
Attorney NeJame has made several inflammatory public statements about the shooting, including downplaying the incident by saying they were two teenage boys suspected of shoplifting pizza and Pokémon Cards with a combined value of less than $40. NeJame said he is preparing a:
“. . .multimillion-dollar lawsuit to be filed against the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, Osceola County, and all those individuals and entities responsible for this grotesque misuse of police authority and use of unnecessary and excessive force.”
In addition to Baez being killed, NeJame said Lowe was shot six times “despite both of his hands being raised, clearly indicating either surrender or a plea for the deputies to stop shooting, and that there was nothing in his hands.”
The lawyer said one of Lowes’ fingers was blown off.
The video the sheriff released came from one of Target’s parking lot surveillance cameras, which swung over to capture one of the suspects getting into the rear driver’s side seat with a shopping bag in hand. There was no body camera footage, as the agents involved were participating in a tactical training exercise with the department’s West Criminal Investigation Division.
Lopez said while in the Target parking lot, the detectives noticed young males concealing the Audi’s registration plate with paper, covering their faces with COVID masks and pulling sweatshirt hoods down over their foreheads.
They were told the training session was over and to gear up for the possibility a crime occurring. The detectives put on vests with the word “sheriff” printed in large letters on them.
They notified Target’s loss prevention officer, who then witnessed Lowe and Gomez enter the store, take merchandise, and exit again by passing all points of sale without any attempts to pay.
Sheriff Lopez said Lowe and Gomez were observed by store security stealing Pokémon cards and pizza. He said Target security then notified the deputies outside that the store wanted to prosecute the shoplifters.
Once the young men returned to the Audi, video shows deputies boxed the car in with their unmarked vehicles with red and blue emergency lights flashing.
Lopez went on:
One detective positioned outside his vehicle had to jump out of the way “out of fear Mr. Baez was going to kill him,” Lopez said. When Baez was removed from the vehicle, a gold firearm with an extended magazine dropped from his person, the sheriff said.
Deputies opened fire on the Audi and three people were shot, Lopez said.
There’s probable cause that Baez, now deceased, committed assault against a law enforcement officer, aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and one count of carrying a concealed firearm without a license, Lopez said.
Lowe and Gomez each are charged with petit theft.
All the suspects in the vehicle had criminal histories. Baez had prior arrests for burglary with assault and battery, giving a false name while under arrest, escape from a facility or in transport, battery and violating probation, Lopez said.
Chicago spends nearly $40 million a year on outside law firms – mostly over ridiculous lawsuits targeting police
May 3, 2022
CHICAGO, IL – Chicago’s legal bills to external law firms is already amassing a huge sum.
According to ABC 7, in a five-year period, the city had a bill that was approximately $200 million in outside legal fees.
Of those, 75% were spent on cases for the police department. These accounted for the most costly of all.
The city of Chicago spends nearly $40 million a year on outside legal council for lawsuits, most of which are against the Chicago Police Department. https://t.co/vmuqYi8EK7
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) May 3, 2022
Greg Kulis, an attorney for one of the individuals suing the city, said,
“It’s kind of comical that the city of Chicago has three law firms representing the two officers in the city of Chicago alleging that their actions were justified yet, when we get called by the superintendent’s lawyers who are saying well, we want to help us get these officers indicted.
So, the city of Chicago is spending money on both sides of the tracks.
And Ariel is sitting here just trying to move on with his life.”
Kulis is defending Ariel Roman, who is suing the city because he was shot two years ago. He was unarmed at the time the Chicago police officer shot him.
Roman sued the officers and the city since he says he still experiences both physical and emotional suffering from the incident.
“I’m afraid to go outside…it has impacted my life.
I was shot twice, one directly into the stomach.
And the second one when I was fleeing on the escalator.”
BREAKING NEWS: Chicago Police Officer Melvina Bogard has been charged with two felonies in the 2020 shooting of Ariel Roman, an unarmed man, at a CTA Red Line station. https://t.co/UCxj5Yz6AP
— CBS Chicago (@cbschicago) August 5, 2021
Allegedly in February 2020, Roman was walking in between train cars. The officers saw this and attempted to arrest Roman. Footage from the incident showed Roman resisting arrest, which led to Roman being tased and then shot.
Melvina Bogard and Bernard Butler, the Chicago police officers involved in the shooting, have a case pending with the police board. Officer Bogard has pleaded not guilty.
Until now, the city has paid almost $250,000 to two external law firms on this case. Roman remarked:
“If they’re willing to spend all this money for all this trouble and yeah, they can’t give me not one dime.“
The police subpoenaed Roman to the police board for CPD’s case recommending Bogard and Butler be fired. He said:
“Now they’re requesting from me to help them to indict or at least fire them.”
Cook County prosecutors dropped all charges against the man who was shot by Chicago police during a struggle at a CTA Red Line station. The man, Ariel Roman, remained hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Sunday. https://t.co/lv04J8Of6V
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) March 1, 2020
Roman is frustrated after watching other cases around the country find a resolution. He noted:
“It is very traumatizing. Nobody deserves to go through this, ever.”
The City of Chicago’s Law Department said in response that “litigation strategies are confidential.”
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