The fatal shooting of Andrew Scott by Lake County, Florida police provoked a flurry of outrage on the Internet and in Scott's own neighborhood. The anger is because Scott died in his own doorway, because he was not the suspect for whom police were searching; nor did police identify themselves when they came to his door.
As I noted last week, Scott answered the door while holding his gun at 1:30 a.m. on July 15. According to WFTV 9, deputies saw the muzzle of the gun and nothing else (implying that Scott did not open his door very wide) and quickly, without identifying himself, K-9 Deputy Richard Sylvester shot and killed Scott. His girlfriend was present in the apartment and was heard screaming. After an hour and a half, deputies realized they had shot the wrong man. They were actually searching for suspect Jonathan Brown, whom they had trailed to Scott's apartment complex. Turns out his apartment was next door.
The controversial shooting, which a few news outlets tried to temper by over-stressing the "drugs, scales, pipes, and baggies" found in Scott's home (according to police) became moreso with the recent discovery that police only booked Brown on attempted murder after they had killed Scott.
Reported WFTV 9:
[Brown's] attorney said "the good 'ol boy" network is at play to overcharge Brown and push up his bond to keep him in jail.
She said Brown feels terrible that his neighbor, Scott, was killed when deputies went to his door, looking for Brown.
Brown, an attempted murder suspect and former police officer, walked into a Lake County courtroom wearing shackles on his wrists and ankles after spending seven days in jail.
His bond was cut from $100,000 to $20,000, but his attorney told the judge even that's too much.
"This entire case has just been blown out of proportion because Lake County Sheriff's Office shot an innocent man," said defense attorney Laura Hargrove.
The defense said there's no evidence Brown was trying to kill someone.
A witness told Leesburg police she saw Brown beating a man with a concrete block, but the man refused medical treatment.
Whether Brown will be charged with attempted murder or not remains to be seen. Nevertheless, that was how police first reported the incident, which certainly makes events seem more serious than assault charges and makes itchy trigger fingers more understandable.
Deputy Sylvester is now on the traditional administrative leave, pending an investigation. But, reported WFTV 9, Lake County police are still defending their officer and their tactics.
"Regardless of how tired he was, regardless of how much overtime he had this week, or last week, or the last three weeks, or the last month, he took the action he was forced to take that given moment," said Lt. John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
No matter what, the Sheriff's Office said, Scott opened the door with the gun pointed at them, and at this point, there's no indication anyone said anything before Sylvester opened fire.
The officers could have surrounded the front and then identified themselves, especially since the officers did not actually see Brown go into the door.
"It was the middle of the night, so they felt it'd be more tactically advantageous to just knock on the door, and that's what we did," said Herrell.
"If the name of the law enforcement agency was announced, do you think this could've been prevented?" asked WFTV reporter Ryan Hughes.
"Well, based upon what we found inside his home—drugs, scales, pipes, baggies—I can't answer that. I don't know what he thought," Herrell said.