Sheriff’s deputies in Florida’s Escambia County have been placed on paid leave after they allegedly shot an unarmed man for reaching for a pack of cigarettes out of his own car outside his own house.
Roy Middleton was returning home from work early Saturday, when he stopped by the car he shares with his mother to grab a pack of smokes.
A neighbor who didn’t recognize Middleton called the police, believing a burglary was in progress.
Deputies who arrived on the scene discovered Middleton inside the car and ordered him to back away from the car with his hands in the air. As he was doing so, he turned to face the cops. It was at this time that the police opened fire.
“It was like a firing squad,” Middleton recalled from his hospital bed. “Bullets were flying everywhere.”
Deputies fired seven shots, five of which struck his car and the side of his house, where his elderly mother Ceola Walker was sleeping. At least one bullet hit Middleton’s leg.
“I don’t understand how they could fire so many shots at him,” said Walker. “He wasn’t resisting or anything and he was at his own house.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident.
A witness to the incident confirmed Middleton’s telling of events. “He wasn’t belligerent or anything,” she told local news outlet PNJ.
Middleton is expected to recover, although he will require several weeks of treatment before he’s back on his feet.