Family of Orlando man shot by police while sitting in his car seeks answers after watching body camera footage


The family and loved ones of Derek Diaz, who was fatally shot last week by police in Orlando, Florida, say watching the body-worn camera footage of the encounter has only left them with more questions.

Diaz, 26, was shot in the early morning hours of July 3 after being approached by multiple officers while sitting in a parked car, according to body camera footage released Wednesday by the Department of Corrections. Orlando police.

In the footage, an officer can be seen approaching Diaz from the driver’s side of the car. After speaking briefly with Diaz, who appears to comply, the officer opens the car door while telling Diaz to put his hands on the wheel. Diaz then reaches his right hand toward the vehicle’s center console before an officer fires what sounds like a single shot.

Less than a minute passes between the officer approaching Diaz and the shot being fired, the video shows.

Officers assisted Diaz until first responders arrived and transported him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The footage was shown to Diaz’s family before the release, but gave them little closure, family attorney Natalie Jackson said.

“They thought they might get some answers,” Jackson said. “What we saw in the video left more questions than answers.”

Among those questions, she said, is why police approached Diaz in the first place.

Jackson said the video shows Diaz “sitting calmly in a legally parked car when he was aggressively approached by three armed police officers and within a minute, he was shot.”

In a statement released along with the body camera footage, police said Diaz threw an object out the window after he was shot “which was later identified as narcotics.”

Orlando Police Chief Eric D. Smith said in a declaration that officers are “proactively patrolling to remove illegal drugs and criminal weapons” from the streets of Orlando. He added that the intersection near where Diaz was confronted had “431 incidents in the last 18 months.”

Jackson said Wednesday that Diaz was unarmed and there was no weapon in his vehicle.

Sonja Nava, the mother of Diaz’s young daughter, said Wednesday that the video does not show Diaz doing anything wrong.

“All we know from that video is that he was sitting in his car. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. In less than a minute, he was dead,” Nava said while speaking to reporters.

Smith said he and his department “understand the need for answers.”

“It is also necessary to maintain the integrity of the investigative process so that the facts are presented in a fair and transparent manner. An investigation does not only involve a video recording of the incident with the body-worn camera, but also includes the collection of witness statements,” the police chief said.

The department has not released the names of the officers involved in the shooting. The officer who fired was not injured and has been placed on administrative leave, the release said.

The police department is cooperating with a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the incident, Smith said. The department also said it would conduct its own internal investigation.

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