The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) released a report on their investigation into the July 15, 2012 shooting death of Andrew Lee Scott by Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Sylvester. The FDLE report tries to justify the shooting and is a total whitewash of the actions of law enforcement personnel. It does not even address the countless errors in protocol made by Deputy Sylvester and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
It is obvious the FDLE report was written by former law enforcement officers for the benefit of law enforcement officers. Many have complained to our group that the FDLE is no longer a credible organization to investigate matters involving other law enforcement agencies in the state. Based on this report–we agree. Of course, getting the State Attorney’s Office to question this report and investigate this incident is not feasible, because that office is in the back pocket of law enforcement.
In our view, what was missed is the “cowboy” mentality of these officers and the complete disregard of the safety of surrounding residents. How can an innocent man be blamed for coming to his door armed with a weapon because someone is pounding on it and not identifying themselves? The officers had ample time to identify themselves because Scott had to go to his bedroom and get his pistol from a safe place while his girlfriend was getting dressed. Based on their own statements in this report, the officers admit that there was a period of time between Deputy Sylvester pounding on the door and Scott answering it.
For those who have visited the site of the shooting, you would have to suspend belief to think that Scott opened his door from the opposite side of Deputy Sylvester and pointed his pistol point blank at him. That is the reason Deputy Sylvester was on the side of the door to get the drop on the suspect. Of course, there was no questioning the veracity of Deputy Sylvester’s statement to the FDLE–it was accepted as the gospel. Deputy Sylvester had all of the advantages–he was like a hunter in a deer stand just waiting on his prey.
It is time to get real. If Scott was somebody other than who he was–a plain, ordinary Joe who was scratching out a simple life–this report may have been different. If Scott were a minority gunned down in this manner would the state not be holding special government sessions with the Lieutenant Governor heading them? Would there be special prosecutors? Would there be marches, national television vigils, and calls for justice by charismatic leaders? If Scott was the son of a well-known politician, would there be such a whitewash of this tragic shooting? We do not think so!
What should really scare every citizen in Lake County is the possibility this could happen to them. Using parallels to Nazi Germany is usually unwise, but isn’t this how the Gestapo handled things? Based on this incident, the policy in the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is to shoot first and ask questions later.
What is also sad in this case is the attempt to justify the unjustifiable by leadership in the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and FDLE. We have not seen or heard one word on what Deputy Sylvester did wrong, because it is circle the wagon time. One would think somebody would be forthright. All we are seeing and hearing is what Scott–the innocent bystander in this entire ordeal–did wrong.
CNN Analyst and nationally recognized attorney Mark NeJame is representing Scott’s family in this tragic event. Unfortunately, it is going to take someone of his caliber to find justice for Andrew Lee Scott. Justice cannot be found in the Lake County Sheriff’s Office or at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Office, because it is all about protecting their own. For ordinary people, there are two evident things that come out this case:
- First, this case is a prime reason why the world needs lawyers like Mark NeJame.
- Second, there is no wonder why so many people distrust law enforcement.
Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Sylvester killed an innocent man. Through his friends at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the FDLE, they are going to attempt to blame Andrew Lee Scott for his own death. How sinister and dishonest is that? This injustice should not stand–there should be justice for Andrew Lee Scott!
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