Lakeland Religious Leaders Appeal For Calm Following Teen’s Death

LAKELAND, FL — Local religious leaders in Lakeland were expected to ask the public to remain calm and not rush to judgment following Wednesday’s police-involved shooting death of 17-year-old Michael Jerome Taylor. The Lakeland International Ministerial Alliance along with other local clergy were planning to host a press conference on Friday at First Institutional Baptist Church to discuss the shooting.

Lakeland police have released video of the "large chaotic scene" outside Salem’s Gyros & More early Wednesday morning moments before Taylor was shot by police. He later died at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. See also Lakeland Police Release Video Of ‘Chaotic Scene’ Before Shooting

Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens said multiple officers opened fire on Taylor as the teenager was driving a stolen Camaro through the crowded restaurant parking lot at the corner of North Florida Avenue and Memorial Boulevard around 2:21 a.m.

"While the officers were there dealing with over 200 patrons in the parking lot, they noticed a black Camaro that was stolen and has been confirmed stolen out of Winter Haven," explained Giddens.

"It was a large chaotic scene — lots of people in the parking lot," said the chief. "The driver of the vehicle noticed the officers approaching. He aggressively began to speed through the parking lot, driving at one of our officers, placing them in fear for their life along with all the other patrons that began to scatter."

The shooting has sparked protest and concern by some members of the Lakeland community.

The Lakeland officers involved in the shooting incident were later identified as Officer Markais Neal, Officer Joseph Novis and Officer Raj Patel.

Photo courtesy Lakeland Police Department

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