A major lawsuit will be filed against Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders and his deputies for not following the law in announcing their presence when they banged on a door of a Leesburg home and killed an innocent man last month, a prominent Orlando attorney said Monday.
Andrew Lee Scott, 26, was shot to death at 1:30 a.m. July 15 when deputies went to the wrong apartment in seeking a suspect.
Attorney Mark NeJame gave a press conference in announcing the lawsuit and also showed the media the trajectory of multiple bullet holes that had been fired through the front door and pierced several walls of Scott's 475-square-foot home. NeJame said Scott was watching a movie with his fiancée when the deputies arrived, banged on the door, and startled the pair.
"We know that he (Scott) did not know who was there," NeJame said. "The door was never wide opened. It was cracked open a few inches so that he could see who was on the outside, and even if he had put a gun up because he didn't know who was intruding at 1:30 in the morning to his home, he didn't know they were law enforcement officers. All of this was brought on by law enforcement not following the law. If they simply followed the law and announced, none of this would have happened. An innocent man was killed because the Lake County Sheriff's Office did not follow the law."
NeJame highlighted court documents and said the Supreme Court of the United States of America, Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Legislature statues have all dictated and required that that there is absolutely no discretion permitted on a knock unannounced.
"The law is very clear," NeJame said. "You knock and you announce your presence so that innocent people will not be killed ... The law forbids the law enforcement officers of the state or the United States to enter before knocking at the door, giving his name and the purpose of his call. That was not done here. So, the law was simply not followed by law enforcement, of the protectors of the law, and if anyone is supposed to be following the law, it is law enforcement. They failed to do so."
NeJame said in the case of State v Cable states: "There is nothing more terrifying to the occupants than to be suddenly confronted in the privacy of their home by a police officer decorated with guns and the insignia of his office. This is why the law protects its entrance so rigidly."
"So what is so offensive is that the sheriff of Lake County came forward after this tragic death, who I will point out has offered no apology to (Scott's) fiancée or to the family. No sorrow, whatsoever, and has gone forward to say they did nothing wrong and they are going to continue to do matters they way that they have done, which is a complete violation of the law," NeJame said. "It is supreme arrogance for them to suggest that the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Lake County Sheriff is above the law ... This arrogant action by law enforcement, by the sheriff of Lake County will cost the taxpayers of Lake County millions of dollars because the law was simply not followed. ... The sheriff has boldly and proudly and arrogantly announced that he is not going to continue to follow the law. That in my opinion, in our opinion, requires an investigation as to why the head law enforcement officer of Lake County is refusing to follow the law, refused to follow it in the past, and didn't learn from this lesson. How many other lives are going to be lost in Lake County? How many other lives are going to be lost in Leesburg? And how much more money is going to cost the taxpayers of Lake County before a sheriff follows the law? This goes from the top down. And if give your deputies the wrong law to follow, and you're requiring them to do whatever they want and telling them to disregard the Supreme Court of the United States, disregard the Florida Supreme Court and disregard the state statues, then we have mayhem, we have chaos and we have innocent people dying as it happened in this incidence."
NeJame said his office is filing the necessary paperwork so that "maximum damages" can be obtained for Scott's family and for his fiancée, "so that hopefully a lesson will be learned and no more innocent lives will be lost."
NeJame and his law partner Jason Recksiedler said misinformation has been given to the public about the case, including Scott having a criminal history of drug-related arrests, which the Daily Commercial could not find.
NeJame said there are no police records against Scott and that the dead man's name had been smeared by LCSO.
"... To crucify and to smear an innocent person's name in the mud for your own political gain, because as sheriff, you want to pretend to everybody that you've done everything right, it's shameful and disgusting and it's a large part of the reason we are being as active as we are in this case," NeJame said. "Without us, without the various witnesses that have come forward, this very well could have been slipped under the rug."
Florida Department of Law Enforcement also is investigating the case.