Police account of officer’s fatal shooting of wedding guest disputed
Winter Park, Florida — The police account of the fatal shooting by an officer of a guest at a wedding reception here is being disputed by family members and others, CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG-TV reports. The man who was shot was identified by police as 39-year-old Daniel Patrick Knight, an uncle of the bride.
The family wants the FBI to take over the case and the officers to be charged and arrested, WKMG says.
“There were a lot of allegations … made by the Winter Park Police Department that we find unfounded and without merit. We are looking for transparency in this case. We do feel that this was murder,” said Pastor Carl Soto, co-founder and vice president of Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc.
The incident unfolded when officers responded to the Winter Park Events Center around 9:30 p.m. Saturday after receiving a 911 call from someone who said a man was harassing guests. Knight’s family claims the caller was working at the event.
“He’s trying to beat people up. He’s yelling,” the caller said. “He’s grabbing an older woman and shoving her,” said the 911 caller. “He’s grabbing people’s necks and like, it’s an older woman. I think it’s his mom.”
Soto said the family doesn’t know why the woman made the call but describes her allegations as “baseless” and “meritless.”
“We listened to that 911 call. We are in the process of trying to locate this this woman who made this call. All the witnesses that I spoke to indicated that (Knight) was not doing anything of that sort,” Soto said. “There is a report that this woman may have had a disagreement with one or two of the patrons that were there at the reception, and that may have pissed her off to the point where she felt she needed to call 911.”
Patricia Keeby, Knight’s mother and the older woman the family assumes the caller was referring to, said her son didn’t do anything wrong.
“He was such a loving man. He didn’t do nothing to me. I asked him to sit me down because my feet was hurting and that’s why he hugged me — to sit me down,” Keeby said, adding that she was shocked the 911 caller reported a man was grabbing her neck.
“He didn’t do nothing to me. I don’t have any bruises. I don’t have any scratches,” Keeby said.
According to Winter Park police, arriving officers tried to separate Knight from another guest. But, police said, Knight punched an officer in the face and knocked him unconscious. A second officer said he then deployed a Taser on Knight, to no avail.
Investigators said Knight knocked that officer to the ground, prompting him to draw his gun and fire.
Knight died that night in a hospital.
Family members say that story doesn’t add up and assert no officer was knocked unconscious.
The family gave WKMG video it says shows Knight dancing at the reception shortly before the shooting.
“A lot of these statements that were made by the Winter Park Police Department does not add up,” said Soto, the pastor. “Dancing. Having a good time. And I didn’t know that a being a black man dancing at a reception justifies murder.”
Knight’s niece was traumatized.
“He was killed in front of me. His blood was all over my wedding dress,” recalled a crying Janisha Paul. “I’m a nurse. I’m a registered nurse. A lot of the guests that were there were also in healthcare. They assisted in doing everything that they could to help him and I wish that he was here.”
WKMG requested police body camera video but the station was told it’s not being released yet because it’s part of the ongoing investigation.