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On February 19, 2022, officers responded to a 9-1-1 call from the Winter Park Events Center where a caller described a male subject inside the venue building as “irate”, “violent” and “pushed people to the floor.”
• Video footage recorded by the venue cameras show guests removing the subject from the ballroom to the outside through an east side doorway.
• Two Winter Park police officers were directed to that same area where they spoke to a female and male subject in an effort to de-escalate the male subject’s behavior.
• Initially both individuals refused to comply with officers’ repeated directives.
• Repeated directives:
▪ “Step back” said 5 times
▪ “Put your hands behind your back” said 4 times
▪ “Backup” said 15 times
▪ “Move out of the way” said 7 times
▪ “Step away or get away from him” said 5 times
▪ “Talk to me” said twice
▪ “Let her go” said 1 time
▪ “Come here for a second” said 5 times
• A crowd quickly formed around the officers during their interaction with the male and female subjects.
• The male subject pulled the female in front of himself.
• Once the female is separated from the male subject, Officer 1 says to the subject “Talk to me.” twice.
• The male subject then punched Officer 1 in the head, knocking him to the ground where he lay unconscious and incapacitated; leaving his firearm accessible to the subject and others.
• Officer 2 discharged his taser at the male subject, but it had no effect.
• The subject then punched Officer 2 in the head, knocking him face down to the ground and continued to hit him in the head.
• From the ground, Officer 2 discharged his firearm as he was being attacked by the subject.
• Officer 2 was then repeatedly struck by a female at the scene.
• Winter Park Police rendered medical aid to the wounded subject.
• Emergency medical responders were staged in the area and arrived when the scene had been secured.
• Backup officers from Winter Park and other area law enforcement agencies arrived on scene.
• Officers 1 and 2 were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and were later released.
• The male subject was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The deceased, later identified as Daniel Patrick Knight, age 39 has an extensive arrest history between 1998 through 2006. According to the Florida Department of Corrections website, he was sentenced to state prison in 2006 for the charges of: Robbery, Grand Theft Motor Vehicle, Burglary, Trafficking in Stolen Property, Burglary of a Dwelling, Fleeing and Attempting to Elude a Police Officer and Felony Driving While License Suspended. He was released from state prison in 2013. His other arrest history appears to be out of Polk County, Lakeland and Avon Park before these dates.
When is an officer permitted to use deadly force? Does the person have to be armed for deadly force to be used?
Under State Statute, an officer is justified in the use of force when he/she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself/herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest, or if he/she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself/herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
There is no requirement that the subject be armed prior to the use of deadly force. The officer must consider the totality of the circumstance as he/she believes them at that moment.
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