"I ask myself why they shot me first," Roy Middleton tells CNN in an exclusive interview
Middleton, 60, is still angry about being shot by Escambia County sheriff's officers
Sheriff David Morgan maintains that Middleton did not respond to the deputies' commands
The deputies are on leave; Middleton is preparing a civil lawsuit, his lawyer says
Simply sitting on his couch is painful. The walker next to Roy Middleton is the constant reminder that he is a long way from being healed.
“How do I feel about what happened?” he said. “How would anybody feel getting shot?”
Still visibly angry, Roy Middleton, 60, sat down with CNN for his first television interview since sheriff’s deputies mistook him for a car thief and shot at him 15 times in his driveway, outside his own car.
He may be the luckiest man you’ve read about in a long time. Why? Because, somehow, 13 of those bullets managed to miss him.
The Florida man’s leg was shattered and is now being held together by metal rods.
“I ask myself why they shot me first. And why they shoot me so many times afterwards. Yeah, I ask why – that’s all I can ask is why,” he told CNN.
Escambia County sheriff’s deputies were responding to a neighbor’s 911 call when they arrived in Middleton’s Pensacola neighborhood early in the morning on July 27.
Middleton said he had had a couple of beers earlier and had just come home from a friend’s house. He said he was sober. He was in his car in his driveway but was mistaken for a car thief by his neighbor.
Escambia County sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah Meeks and Sgt. Matthew White walked up his driveway. According to Sheriff David Morgan, Middleton did not respond to their commands and kept going into and out of the car. With his car keys, which had a small gold flashlight on them, in his hand, Middleton allegedly lunged at the deputies. He was unarmed.
“The point to making the comments about the lunging was his herky-jerky movements that he was making. And again, a failure to follow the deputies’ instructions,” Morgan said.
That’s when Meeks and White opened fire.
They have been placed on paid administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the case. They will send their findings to the Escambia County state’s attorney’s office, which will determine whether any charges will be filed against them.
“There was nothing glaringly apparent to us that the officers did that was out of the ordinary in the given set of circumstances as have been given to us,” Morgan said in an interview with CNN.
But Middleton says the deputies were not doing their job.
“They should have asked me, did I live here? Ran my address or license plate or something,” he said.
When asked to respond to Middleton’s comment, Morgan said, “How long has Mr. Middleton been a law enforcement officer? It’s a car burglary in progress. You don’t roll up behind the car, expose yourself or your partner and wait for the tag to come back. The officers get out of the car … respond to the suspect. At this time Mr. Middleton was a suspect at that time.”
Middleton is beginning the legal process to pursue a civil suit against the sheriff’s office for excessive force. He’s represented by Lorenzo Williams.
“Roy has been permanently injured. No question about it,” Williams said. “If we cannot resolve it through peaceful negotiation, then we have no other choice but to let the court of law evaluate their conduct.”
But even Middleton is unsure what restitution would be sufficient or if an apology would suffice.
“I don’t know what you call enough,” he said. “If it would make me walk again, yeah.”