A white Florida officer critically wounded a black man early Monday when he shot the unarmed 28-year-old in a stolen car in Orlando, according to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
Witnesses say the man, Cedric Bartee, had his hands in the air — a sign of surrender — when the shooting occurred. In recent months, the “Hands up, Don’t shoot” gesture has become a symbol to combat police violence in the wake of other police shootings involving young black and unarmed males nationwide.
But in a Monday press conference, Demings, who is African-American, said some eyewitness accounts conflict with that of the officer.
“I ask everyone to not rush to judgment and allow the investigation to be completed,” said at a news conference in Orlando.
On Monday Demings said he was trying to be transparent in holding the press conference “because of the backdrop of everything happening in the country at this time.”
He added: “It’s concerning to me” how the public might react.
Demings said the officer, Sergeant Robert McCarthy, shot Bartee after he failed to comply with his commands.
After locating a stolen car at an apartment complex just after midnight on Monday, fired three shots, one of which hit Cedric Bartee.
Demings said Bartee failed to comply with McCarthy’s commands and “made extensive furtive movements,” making the deputy fear for his safety.
Bartee underwent surgery and was in stable but critical condition late in the afternoon, the sheriff said. A second man in the car was arrested unhurt.
McCarthy has since been reassigned to administrative duties pending an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The FDLE is also investigating the shooting of another person of color last week — police shot and killed 32-year-old Alejandro Noel Cordero in Orlando after investigating a burglary. Police say Cordero had a gun.
SOURCE: Reuters/HuffPost | PHOTO CREDIT: Police Department