ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WALA) - As Roy Middleton continues to recover in a Pensacola hospital, his mother Ceola Walker still wrestles with questions.
"I don't get what happened or why it happened. I don't understand why they fired so many shots. He wasn't resisting and he was at his own house," Walker said.
The Escambia County Sheriff's Office said two deputies responded to the 200 Block of Shadow Lawn Lane for a report of a possible vehicle robbery.
Sheriff David Morgan said the two deputies, identified as Deputy Jeremiah Meeks and Sgt. Matthew White, gave Middleton verbal commands to get out of the car with his hands up. Deputies say Middleton lunged out of the vehicle and repeatedly refused to obey verbal commands. Morgan says deputies say Middleton then raised one hand which carried something metallic.
"When Mr. Middleton exited the vehicle, he did it in a lunging motion very quickly and spun towards the officers. He then, from the best of our knowledge from the officers and witness, only raised one hand instead of both. He had a metallic object in his hand and the officers, fearing for their safety, fired upon him," Morgan said.
Morgan said the two deputies fired upon Middleton in fear for their safety.
"We had what we believed to be a suspect at that time. Officer Meeks feared he had a weapon in his hand and fired his gun. Sgt. White could not tell if gunfire was being directed at Deputy Meeks so in response he also fired," Sheriff Morgan said.
Sheriff Morgan said around 15 rounds of ammo was fired.
Middleton's family said he was shot once in the left thigh, fracturing a bone. Another bullet grazed his right thigh.
"He is my only son so for that to happen is devastating, and I know it wasn't anybody but God that saved him," she said.
Walker said her son told her was looking in the car for an item when he heard the deputies arrive. According to Walker, her son and got out of the vehicle with his hands up and was holding his keys.
At the press conference, Sheriff Morgan addressed questions and concerns regarding why it took around 15 rounds of ammunition to be fired in this situation. He accounted that to "officer anxiety".
"There's no set number of rounds we'd fire because it depends on the situation. The officers feared for their safety and we had a suspect, or what we thought was a suspect, non-compliant with their instructions," Morgan said.
Neighbor Andre Lauzon said he watched here from his yard only feet away and said Middleton appeared to follow instructions.
"He began backing out of the vehicle with his hands up. I could see his hands through the window at my angle. Officers started yelling at him to get on the ground. His hands disappeared from view and he made a slight dip motion towards the officers and when he did the officer began shooting," said Lauzon, "Once he was out of my view through the windows of the vehicle I couldn't really say if he was cooperative or non cooperative but knowing him I'd say he was likely cooperative."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating. Both deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Authorities said Middleton made a statement saying he initially believed the commands came from his neighbor who was playing a trick on him.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is currently investigating the shooting.
Middleton's wounds are not life threatening.
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