Transcripts on fatal shooting by deputy released


Published: Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.

OCALA - The 5th Circuit State Attorney's Office on Thursday released the transcripts of a grand jury hearing held Wednesday at which two Marion County sheriff's deputies were not charged with any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a civilian over the summer.

At the time the report was released, attorneys for the late Joshua Salvato, 21, on behalf his family, released a complaint, expected to be filed in federal court Friday, suing the MCSO and the deputies for $75,000 and outlining their opinion of the events that led to the shooting and their request for a jury trial.

Salvato's family is being represented by three law firms, Varnell & Warwick, Leopold Law and Romanucci & Blandin LLC. A press conference, an attorney for one of the firms said, is slated for sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The grand jury report states that on July 6, the MCSO received a 911 call about a man walking along Sunset Harbor Road stepping into oncoming traffic, yelling and screaming.

Deputy Lauren Miley responded and saw Salvato walking along the roadway. Salvato fit the description given to officials, so Miley stopped.

Salvato's actions "seemed very on edge" and he was "kind of acting strange" the report noted, making her feel nervous and uncomfortable, so she instructed him to step back as she asked if he had any weapon, according to the transcript.

Reaching in his pocket, Salvato pulled out two pieces of bread. During the encounter with the deputy, Salvato twice told the deputy he was not going to jail, was evasive in his responses and tried walking away, the transcript said.

Miley called for another deputy, Norman Brown, who was assigned the call but was some distance away, to come quickly.

Arriving on scene, Brown exited his vehicle and ordered Salvato to the ground, then Brown and Miley attempted to handcuff him. Salvato was able to get up, and the three began fighting. Brown was knocked to the ground, while Miley got up as Salvato backed away.

Brown was still on the ground and Miley pulled her firearm and shot Salvato once in the abdomen. Miley said she felt Brown was injured to the point he wasn't able to assist her and she was on her own dealing with Salvato, so she shot him, fearing for her life, according to the transcript.

Brown, who apparently didn't realize Salvato had been shot, managed to get up and used a Taser on Salvato. Brown said he did it to stop Salvato and to make him get on the ground.

Salvato died by the time medical personnel arrived on scene.

While the grand jury didn't indict the deputies, the report pointed out lessons and recommendations that the MCSO should adopt.

Among some of the highlighted lessons were the deputies not using the proper technique in handcuffing Salvato, the quick discharge of the deputy's firearm — even though grand jurors say they understood her reasoning for firing the shot — and the continued discharge of the Taser after Salvato was on the ground and in handcuffs.

The recommendation was for the agency to increase their training hours, which had been cut due to budget constraints from 40 hours to 24 hours a year.

Sheriff Ed Dean has agreed with increasing the training hours and to reinstating the Red Man training, which had been eliminated because of injuries and loss of manpower for district patrols. Red Man training was designed, the sheriff said, to help deputies deal with physical confrontations.

As for Salvato, lawyers contend he was not violent or committing any crimes and should not have been shot. They felt Salvato fought with the deputies because he was in fear and thought he would be injured severely by the deputies.

The lawyers took issue with the Tasing of Salvato after he was shot, saying it was excessive force and that deputies made no attempt to provide medical aid to Salvato, who officials said bled to death.

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