Orange County, FL – The special prosecutor appointed by former Florida Governor Rick Scott to investigate the use of force used by officers when they took accused murderer and cop-killer Markeith Loyd into custody determined that the officers’ actions had been “lawful and justified.”
“After carefully examining the report and evidence, I have determined that the use of force used during the arrest of Markeith Loyd was lawful and justified under the provisions of Florida Statutes, and no further action will be taken by this office,” 18th Circuit State Attorney Phil Archer Archer announced in a statement on Wednesday.
Loyd, 41, was wanted for the first-degree murders of his pregnant girlfriend Sade Dixon and Orlando Police Lieutenant Debra Clayton when he was captured on Jan. 17, 2017.
Police said Loyd fatally shot Dixon in December of 2016, and then fatlly shot Lt. Clayton four times, execution style, when she attempted to apprehend him on Jan. 9, 2017 in a Walmart parking lot.
He accused police of beating him when he was arrested, WKMG-TV reported.
Police said Loyd had been resisting arrest, but that there would be an investigation into the circumstances.
The case has been an administrative nightmare for the state of Florida since its beginning.
At first, Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala said she would not seek the death penalty against anyone during her term. Her decision was met with outrage by many in the community.
In April, Gov. Scott signed a series of executive orders that took the Loyd case, and numerous other murder cases that were eligible for the death penalty, away from Ayala and reassigned them to Special Prosecutor Brad King, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Shortly after that, King announced he would seek the death penalty against Loyd.
But King told Ayala he didn’t have jurisdiction to conduct the use of force investigation, according to emails obtained by WKMG.
Ayala fired back that the governor directed him to handle “all matters” involving Loyd.
Gov. Scott resolved the dispute by assigning Archer to oversee the use of force investigation on Dec. 19, 2018.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina backed his officers up as soon as the allegations of police brutality were made, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
"I think the officers showed incredible restraint," Chief Mina said. "... I wouldn't believe anything Markeith Loyd says."
"We are talking about a cold-blooded, ruthless killer who then took off and committed more crimes, attempted to kill a sheriff's deputy and also carjacked somebody," the chief told the Orlando Sentinel.
On the day of Loyd’s arrest, he met the law enforcement officers while wearing body armor and holding two guns.
At some point, he put down the guns, and video from a police helicopter showed Loyd crawling on his stomach toward officers. The video also showed the suspect being kicked in the head by at least two police officers.
Loyd lost vision in one eye during the arrest, WKMG reported.
"They done took my eye, they broke my jaw, broke my nose," Loyd told a judge at his court appearance. Loyd asked the state for an investigation into the use of force during his arrest.
The special prosecutor tasked with evaluating officers’ use of force in the case determined that no charges should be brought against the officers, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Stacey Straub Salmons reviewed the uses of force by Orlando Police Sergeants James Parker and Anthony Mongelluzzo and Orlando Police Officers Cedric Hinkles and Jonathan Cute for Archer.
The State’s Attorney’s Office determined the that the officers’ actions constituted deadly force, but said that Loyd’s refusal to obey police commands and violent history warranted the response, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The review said that police had heard that Loyd had the intention to commit suicide-by-cop if he were apprehended.
“[T]he appearance of the danger presented by Mr. Loyd, given all that was known by these men at the time of their interaction with Mr. Loyd that night, was so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under these very same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the same use of force," the review said.
Loyd had tossed away two handguns into the yard before he crawled through the grass to the officers, prompting the concern that he might have re-armed himself on his way to the officers, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Straub Salmons also wrote that the suspect had made the officers nervous by looking around at them as he crawled to them, “typical of a suspect engaging in counter-surveillance of law enforcement, and evidences a suspect’s intent to gain a tactical advantage over officers.”
She said that Loyd could have protected his face by looking away from the officers’ strikes when they were taking him into custody.
“I recognize that Mr. Loyd was surrounded at the time of his apprehension, and an argument could be made that anywhere he looked, he would inevitably be looking in the direction of an officer, but this argument fails to take into consideration the one place Mr. Loyd could have looked: down at the ground,” Straub Salmons argued in her report.
Florida’s Supreme Court ruled in December of 2018 that police officers could invoke the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law to be protected from prosecution when they have to use deadly force, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Straub Salmons cited the “Stand Your Ground” decision in her review of the Loyd incident.