Lakeland police released surveillance footage of Wednesday’s officer-involved shooting that killed a 17-year-old who police say was driving a stolen vehicle directly at an officer through a crowded parking lot.
In a news conference early Wednesday, Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens said officers responded to the parking lot of Salem’s Gyros & More restaurant, 101 E. Memorial Blvd., around 2:21 a.m. A crowd of between 150 to 200 people had gathered there.
Police are familiar with the location, having been called to the area multiple times in the past, according to Giddens. He called it a “challenging location,” as crowds often come to the area after a nearby nightclub closes.
Officers dispersed part of the crowd but stayed in the parking lot to monitor the more than 100 people still gathered there Wednesday morning, according to police.
Around 2:48 a.m., officers noticed a Chevrolet Camaro that had been reported stolen and walked up to the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was later identified by police as 17-year-old Michael J. Taylor.
“The driver of the vehicle noticed officers approaching. He aggressively began to speed through the parking lot, driving at one of our officers, placing them in fear for their life, along with all the other patrons that began to scatter,” Giddens said.
Officers began shooting at the vehicle.
The car continued through the parking lot and hit several other vehicles and a pole. At one point, the video shows the vehicle stopped long enough that a woman got out of the vehicle, ducked and ran. She told officers there was a gun in the vehicle, according to police.
Taylor again accelerated and hit another vehicle, propelling it into a nearby building, according to police.
The incident lasted approximately 42 seconds.
When the car stopped, officers pulled Taylor from the driver’s seat and performed first aid. Taylor was taken to a hospital, where he died, according to Giddens.
Police reported finding a loaded gun in the car.
Taylor had four prior felony arrests for charges, including burglary to grand theft auto, according to police. Investigators later learned Taylor was on felony probation as a violent offender of special concern.
The officers involved — Markais Neal, Joseph Novis and Raj Patel — will be placed on administrative leave for at least three days, per department policy.