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'Problematic, impulsive and unplanned': Grand jury weighs in on deadly Osceola Target shooting

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — State Attorney Andrew Bain announced an update on Thursday related to a deadly shooting by deputies in a Target parking lot.

In April 2022, 20-year-old Jayden Baez died after being shot by Osceola County deputies. Investigators say Baez and the group he was with were accused of stealing a pizza and some Pokémon cards from a Kissimmee Target.

Deputies training outside were notified. According to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, the group got into a car driven by Baez.

OCSO said deputies shot into the vehicle after Baez accelerated the car toward them. Baez was killed, and two others were injured, Bain reminded listeners on Thursday.

Even though Bain announced last month that the grand jury would not hand up charges against deputies, the grand jury has now weighed in on the policies and procedures they believe should be changed regarding shootings involving law enforcement.

According to Bain, the grand jury was "blunt."

"They said that this should have never happened," Bain said.

The grand jury believes that ineffective training and communication by the Osceola County Sheriff's Office created the results of this shooting, Bain said.

During the incident, deputies attempted a tactical maneuver known as a vehicle block to keep the suspects from leaving — but that attempt failed, Bain said. The State Attorney said what happened after that failed attempt resulted in the fatal shooting.

"After listening to all the evidence and testimony over several days, the grand jury determined the Osceola County Sheriff's Office's approach to this incident was problematic, impulsive and unplanned," Bain said.

According to Bain, the grand jury has identified five areas that they would like to see the Osceola County Sheriff's Office improve on to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future.

They include changes to the vehicle block procedure, better determining when it's appropriate to use, improving communication and training, making the use of body cameras more consistent, and changing the policies regarding deputies putting themselves in harm's way and shooting into vehicles.

The full report has been passed to OCSO officials, Bain said.

Baez's father, Alejandro, spoke out after Bain, saying:

“I miss my son every day. I just don’t want any other families or parents to have to go through something like this. It’s not a good feeling to keep living your life knowing that you’ll never see your child again.”

There is still a lawsuit against the sheriff's office. Attorney Mark NeJame is representing the families.

“This all the more confirms and corroborates everything that we’ve been saying,” NeJame said.

Sheriff Marco Lopez sent us a statement in response to the grand jury's recommendations, saying in part:

“The decisions and recommendations from the grand jury are crucial to the overall mission of law enforcement. We will consider these recommendations and continue to support the men and women of our agency to better ensure the safety of the citizens of Osceola County.”

In a recent news conference, he said changes are already being implemented.

© 2024, Wesh

Source: Wesh

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