LAKELAND, Fla. — The mother of Michael Taylor, the 17-year-old killed by Lakeland Police in a Salem’s Fresh Eats parking lot the day after Christmas 2018, announced Thursday she plans to sue the Lakeland Police Department.
- Mom of teen killed by Lakeland Police: "We need answers"
- Lakeland Police, Restaurant Managers Work to Improve Safety After Shooting
- Lakeland PD Chief: Teen Shot Dead After Driving Aggressively at Officers
Taylor's mother, Valentine Irving, held a news conference Thursday afternoon with her attorney, Michele Rayner-Goolsby, and members of the Poor and Minority Justice Association.
During the news conference, Rayner-Goolsby urged State Attorney Brian Haas to charge the three officers who shot and killed Michael Taylor — Officer Markais Neal, Officer Joseph Novis, and Officer Raj Patel — with murder.
"We're asking for an arrest," Rayner-Goolsby said. "We're asking for a transparent investigation and we're asking for protocols and procedures that are consistent with the national standards to be enacted by the Lakeland Police Department."
Question of judgment
While Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens maintains his officers shot at Taylor as Taylor attempted to run one of them over, Rayner-Goolsby said those officers lacked good judgment.
"There was no reasonable judgment here. There just wasn't," Rayner-Goolsby said. "I've been practicing criminal defense for about six years. I have never seen where an officer would shoot into an occupied vehicle and moreover in a crowded of place where if that bullet ricocheted, it could've killed other people."
Giddens said in a previous interview officers thought the car was stolen and they were trying to make an arrest.
“Was there an option to not approach the vehicle? What does that say? Are we not going to try to take criminals into custody? What do you do there?" asked Giddens during an interview on December 27, a day after the shooting. "Do you just let it leave and then we get into a pursuit and some innocent family gets hit?”
During Thursday’s news conference, Taylor's mother also revealed more information about how many times her son was shot.
"I stripped him down at the coroner's office to see for myself, because I can't take what the police told me," Irving explained. "The first one I saw was the one he took in the middle of his hand. I counted seven or eight."
"All the bullet wounds are in the back of his body and to the side, and that right there lets us know that the narrative of the car — "violently," that's the word that was used, "violently approaching them, violently coming at them" — it doesn't hold weight. It doesn't hold water," Rayner-Goolsby said.
Rayner-Goolsby said she notified the police department she planned to file a lawsuit earlier this week. That's around the same time Giddens announced he was retiring after 34 years of service and taking a job at Florida Southern College to be its Director of Campus Safety and Security.
The police department declined to comment further on this case.
We requested the autopsy of Michael Taylor. A spokesperson for the police department said they have not received the medical examiner's report yet.