The family of 32-year-old Florida resident Latasha Walton, who was shot and killed by a Florida state trooper during a traffic stop last week, is demanding to know what went wrong that fateful evening. They have hired famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to lead their “pursuit for justice.”
Florida Highway Patrol trooper Ronald Melendez-Bonilla was reportedly conducting a traffic stop with Walton, who was driving a white BMW, when the situation escalated and the trooper opened fire. Troopers claim Walton was shot several times as she tried to flee the scene, according to local10.com.
Cellphone video obtained from a 7News viewer and re-posted by Crump reportedly shows the trooper drawing his gun while trying to stop Walton’s BMW. The footage also appears to show the car nearly running over Melendez-Bonilla. Moments after the officer opens fire, a man is seen on the ground being handcuffed.
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Breaking video #sayhername #latashawalton – We represent the family of this 32 year old mother of two who was shot gunned down and killed in broad daylight by the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper ‼️ The video is horrific and shows that this was an unnecessary, unjustifiably use of excessive force that claim the life of this beautiful sister! #blacklivesmatter ✊? #BenCrumpNews ?
“For unknown reasons, there was some type of confrontation between the trooper and the driver at which time the trooper discharged his firearm into the vehicle,” said FHP Troop Commander Major Christopher Dellapietra.
Rescue units responded to the scene near Northwest Seventh Avenue and State Road 9, last Tuesday around 7:30 p.m., and paramedics pronounced the young woman DOA.
“I don’t understand. If you want to stop a car, why would you shoot somebody six times? What happened? Why is she not here? Why? For her to lose her life like that at 32 years old … Why? For what?,” said Walton’s cousin, Shaquesta Crockett.
“I am on a relentless pursuit for justice for my sister,” said Alphonso Wright, Jr., Walton’s brother.
The family have now lawyered up with Crump to take legal action against the trooper.
“Everybody who I have spoken with who saw the video, the first question they ask is, ‘Why did he have to shoot?’” Crump said. “This was a highway patrol officer who we believe did not follow his training, violated their policies and procedures.”
Walton’s son, Lafortune Normil, told reporters that he is “done crying ’cause my mom wouldn’t want that,” he said. “She would want me to stay strong, and that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Walton was initially pulled over for driving erratically, but her brother says there were “other tactics he could’ve went through besides pulling the gun on my sister.”
He added, “She was our provider. She was our support system, our backbone. She was everything to us.”
Walton leaves behind two sons and an extended family.