Entertainment And News

Police Who Killed Man Over Stolen Pokémon Cards Failed To Identify Themselves From Unmarked Vehicle, Lawyer Says

Photo: Courtesy of NeJame Law and Albert Yonfa
Jayden Baez and Joseph Lowe

A Florida police department is facing accusations of negligence after the tragic death of a 20-year-old man and the injury of a teenager who were shot by officers on April 27.

The incident occured after four men, including 20-year-old Jayden Baez and 19-year-old Joseph Lowe, entered a Target near Kissimmee, Florida, and were suspected of committing petty theft.

Upon leaving the store and slowly driving off, Osceola County sheriff's deputies boxed them in, struck the black Audi they were in and started firing gunshots into their vehicle, allegedly without announcing they were law enforcement, killing Baez, maiming Lowe, and critically injuring a third victim.

Jayden Baez was killed and Joseph Lowe was maimed for stealing 40-dollars-worth of Pokemon cards and a pizza.

Attorneys Albert Yonfa and Mark NeJame of the Orlando-based firm NeJame Law, who are representing Lowe, have called on the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office to release more information about the incident that occurred.

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They’ve launched a multi-million dollar lawsuit against “the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, Osceola County, and all those individuals and entities responsible for this grotesque misuse of police authority and use of unnecessary and excessive force,” NeJame wrote in a Facebook post.

“Transparency is not saying ‘we can’t talk about it,’” NeJame said. “If the Sheriff’s Office is being transparent, then show us what you got, as we are.”

According to his post on Facebook, “Information indicates that Osceola County sheriff deputies physically followed the teenagers inside the store and allowed and watched the juveniles exit the store.”

He made it a point to emphasize the fact that the deputies failed to stop the two men from committing the petit theft despite having probable cause from following them into the store and watching them the whole time.

“What sane department would not step in, arrest the boys or tell the boys, ‘Put it back’?” Yonfa said.

“What happened here is the officers let the boys leave the store and let them get into a vehicle. This forces a fight-or-flight situation. This is endangering the public right there.”

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According to Sheriff Marcos López, who spoke out about the situation for the first time on Wednesday despite the incident occurring a whole week earlier, the deputies were “performing training exercises in a nearby parking lot.”

There is also no body-worn camera footage of the shooting because they were wearing tactical gear and not cameras.

Baez was shot to death and two others were critically injured — one of them being Lowe who had been shot “six times despite both of his hands being raised, clearly indicating either surrender or a plea for the deputies to stop shooting, and that there was nothing in his hands.”

Each hand suffered three gunshot wounds, including one finger which had been blown off.

“What is unbelievable is that a situation where the crime punishable is the lowest magnitude possible in Florida results in a 20-year-old who’s dead and a 19-year-old who’s maimed,” Yonfa said.

“God help any parents in Osceola County.”

Florida law states that Petit Theft of items under $100 in value is a Second Degree Misdemeanor, with penalties of up 60 days in jail, or 6 months probation, and a $500 fine.

Instead, one man has been killed and two others were critically injured while civilians in the area were put in danger due to an unlawful, unjust, and abuse of power by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.