Orlando, FL – The wife of an Orlando police officer who was shot in the eye by a convicted felon during a standoff in 2018 has filed a lawsuit against the gunman’s estate and the owner of the apartment complex where the attack occurred.
Officer Kevin Valencia, 27, was responding to a domestic violence call on June 10, 2018, when 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey opened fire through an apartment door, hitting him in the eye, WFTV reported.
During the 21-hour standoff that ensued, Lindsey murdered four children – ages one, six, 10, and 11 – before he turned the gun on himself, police said.
Officer Valencia suffered catastrophic injuries due to his gunshot wound, and has not fully recovered, WKMG reported.
Police said Lindsey, a convicted felon, was found to have been in possession of two rifles, two shotguns, and two handguns, all of which he was believed to have inherited from his father, USA Today reported. He was prohibited by law from possessing firearms because of his violent felony convictions.
An attorney for Officer Valencia’s wife, Meghan Valencia, filed the lawsuit in Orange County Ninth Judicial Circuit Court on April 4, WKMG reported.
Pinnacle Property Management Services, Lindsey’s estate, and the Westbrook Apartments are all named in the suit.
According to the lawsuit, the Westbrook Apartments are required to conduct credit and background checks on all tenants in order to help protect residents and the public.
The lawsuit alleged that Pinnacle Property Management Services was aware that Lindsey was living in the complex, and that they either didn’t run the required background checks on him, or they were aware of his criminal history and let him live there anyway.
Lindsey was sentenced to 35 years of probation in 2009, after he pleaded no contest to charges of fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and arson for setting fire to a home after an argument with his girlfriend, according to WFTV.
During the altercation, Lindsey grabbed a knife and stabbed the woman’s television, then proceeded to punch the TV with his fists, Heavy reported.
“You need to get the dogs and leave my grave,” he told the woman, according to an affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
When she tried to call police, Lindsey broke her phone.
After she fled the residence, Lindsey poured gasoline throughout the home, then set it ablaze.
Lindsey was repeatedly arrested for violations of his probation, to include a 2012 arrest for aggravated battery and aggravated assault stemming from a physical altercation with another woman, WFTV reported.
During that incident, Lindsey allegedly held a knife to the throat of his girlfriend as she was holding their infant son, and threatened to kill her, Heavy reported.
He ultimately dragged her to another room, causing her to drop their baby onto the ground.
The child was not injured, but the woman sustained a cut to her hand as she struggled with Lindsey, Heavy reported.
She ultimately escaped and contacted police, who found her covered in blood.
Lindsey was released from custody after prosecutors failed to file the new charges within 30 days, WFTV reported.
In May of 2018, Lindsey violated his probation by committing a retail theft, and was arrested, according to USA Today.
At that time, a probation officer recommended that Lindsey be sentenced to six months in jail, but the judge gave him supervised probation instead, even though he was already on probation, and ordered him to pay restitution, court records showed.
Less than a month later, Lindsey had murdered four children, critically wounded a police officer, and taken his own life.
“In the middle of the night, officers came to me and they woke me up…and told me that my husband had been shot trying to save some kids,” Meghan said through tears during a news conference several days after her husband was critically wounded.
The mother-of-two told reporters that she and Officer Valencia were each other’s “first love,” and that they have been together since they were just 12 years old.
“You can imagine that this person is literally everything to me,” the grieving wife and mother said through sobs. “He blessed me with two amazing little boys, and he…is the most amazing father ever.”
“He is fighting every second, and I need him to continue to keep fighting,” Meghan implored at the time. “He has to come back.”
Officer Valencia has been with the department since 2016.
The lawsuit also accused the apartment complex of failing to provide door locks that worked properly, WKMG reported.
Because of the malfunctioning lock, Officer Valencia was unable to open the door with a key, and was forced to stand in front of the door in order to gain entry.
“After making several attempts to kick in the door, but before gaining entry through the door, Lindsey fired a gunshot from inside Apartment No. 127 through the door, which struck Kevin in the head,” according to the lawsuit.
“As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ negligence, recklessness and carelessness, Kevin suffered serious injuries and damages," the lawsuit read.
Meghan is seeking a minimum of $15,000 in damages, WKMG reported.
In December of 2018, Meghan accepted a Life Saving Award for her husband at the Orlando Police Department headquarters – the same week she learned that he would lose his eye.
Officer Valencia was transferred to the specialized Shepherd Hospital in Atlanta, where he underwent his 11th surgery later the same month, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
In February, the wounded officer was transferred back to a hospital nearer to home in the Orlando area.
A fundraising account established to assist his family had raised over $194,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Miami rapper Pitbull will also be performing at a free concert at the Central Florida Fairgrounds in June to benefit Officer Valencia, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #93 announced in March.