Newly released body camera videos depicted the events leading up to the shooting death of 26-year-old Derek Diaz by an Orlando police officer. The footage, made public on Wednesday, captures the moments before Diaz was shot near Jefferson Street and Orange Avenue. Orlando Police Chief Eric Smith stated that officers were actively patrolling the area, which was known for criminal activity, and suspected Diaz of involvement in drug-related offenses. According to the police, Diaz failed to comply with officers’ commands, and one of them fired his weapon when Diaz made a sudden movement as if reaching for a firearm. Diaz was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The body camera video from the officer who discharged his weapon shows him approaching the vehicle in which Diaz was seated, accompanied by two other officers. The officer instructs Diaz to turn off the car. In the video, Diaz can be seen holding his phone and another object before the officer asks him to place both hands on the steering wheel. Diaz complies, saying, “My bad, my bad.” However, as the officer opens the car door and tells Diaz to put his hands on the steering wheel again, Diaz raises one hand in the air while reaching into the center console. Gunshots are heard in the video shortly after the officer repeatedly instructs Diaz to place his hands on the steering wheel.
The officers step away from the vehicle, and one of them asks, “Did you guys shoot?” Another officer confirms that he fired his weapon. The footage then shows the officers returning to the vehicle to pull Diaz out and administer CPR. Although no firearm was found in the car, drugs were discovered during the investigation.
Orlando Police Chief Eric Smith released a statement acknowledging the public’s need for answers while emphasizing the importance of maintaining the integrity of the investigation process. Smith highlighted that the investigation involves not only body camera footage but also witness testimony, evidence collection, and other materials.
Diaz’s family, represented by attorneys Ben Crump and Natalie Jackson, had been demanding the release of the body camera video. Crump expressed frustration with the delays, questioning why police offer numerous excuses when the purpose of body camera videos is transparency. Sonja Nava, the mother of Diaz’s daughter, expressed her family’s heartbreak and frustration at being kept in the dark about the details surrounding Diaz’s death.
The officer who fired his weapon at the man has been placed on administrative leave during an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Prior to the public release of the body camera videos, a senior member of the police chief’s command staff met with Diaz’s family to show them the footage. The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
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