(Reuters) – A Florida man who was shot by police in his own driveway on suspicion of being a robber says he felt like he was in front of a “firing squad” after being subjected to a volley of more than a dozen bullets.
Roy Middleton, a 60-year-old retired Coca-Cola Co worker, told the Pensacola News Journal in an interview from his hospital bed that he was shot in the leg and was lucky to escape without more bullet wounds.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told a news conference in Pensacola on Monday that the shooting by two deputies was “a tragedy,” but he said the officers followed proper procedure after Middleton failed to comply with police commands to step out of his car parked in the driveway and put up his hands.
Middleton said he had been searching for a cigarette in his mother’s car at about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday when the deputies arrived. Middleton said he was backing out of the car with his hands raised when they opened fire.
“It was like a firing squad,” he told the News Journal. “Bullets were flying everywhere.”
The two deputies were responding to a 911 emergency call from a neighbor who suspected that a man was trying to steal a car in Middleton’s driveway.
Morgan said the deputies told Middleton to show his hands and get out of the car. Middleton stuck one hand out of the car window and then withdrew it, the sheriff said.
When Middleton stepped out of the car he made “a lunging motion … spun towards the officers” and had a metallic object in his hand, Morgan said.
“At that point the officers, fearing for their safety, fired upon Mr. Middleton,” the sheriff added.
Morgan said two objects were collected by police and turned over as evidence to investigators. Middleton’s mother told the News Journal he was holding a key chain with a small flashlight attached.
The two deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.