Roy Middleton (pictured), a 60-year-old African-American man in Western Florida, is recovering from wounds, after police shot him in front of his home last Saturday. Middleton was reportedly looking for a cigarette inside his mother’s parked car — which sat in his driveway — when county officers opened fired on him even though he reportedly did not provoke them.
The shooting occurred in the town of Warrington, a small, predominantly White town just six miles from Pensacola and the Alabama state line, The shooting reportedly happened early Saturday morning, after Escambia County sheriff deputies were responding to a 911 call of a neighbor who saw Middleton looking around in the car. When the police arrived to respond to the burglary call, they approached Middleton and demanded he remove himself from the vehicle with his hands raised, according to his account.
Middleton told the Pensacola News Journal that as he heeded the order and turned to face officers, they open fired and struck him in the leg. “It was like a firing squad,” Middleton said. “Bullets were flying everywhere.”
Middleton said he will be recovering for several weeks, although none of his wounds are seen as life-threatening. Still, he is thankful the deputies’ aim was off that night. ”I’m just glad they didn’t hit me here or here,” Middleton told the Journal, pointing toward his head and chest. “My mother’s car is full of bullet holes, though. My wife had to go and get a rental.”
A teenage witness came forward and said that Middleton wasn’t aggressive and didn’t make any motion toward the police that would have prompted them to shoot. “He wasn’t belligerent or anything,“ said the girl. Middleton thinks that the police operated in haste, and had they taken some small measures, they would have realized that he wasn’t performing a criminal act.
“Even if they thought the car was stolen, all they had to do was run the license plate,” he said. “They would have seen that, that car belonged there.”
Middleton’s mother, Ceola Walker, 77, has come forward with a message to the deputies that shot her son: “I’ll wait and see what they have to say,” said Ms. Walker. “They have some explaining to do.”
Although the deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave, Middleton says the sheriff’s office has yet to offer an apology or explanation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.