LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Saturday marked one month since Lakeland police officers shot and killed a 17-year-old who they say tried to get away from them in a stolen car.
To mark the event, a group in Lakeland held a rally for Michael Taylor.
More than 100 demonstrators marched on the police department on Saturday.
Taylor’s mother, Valentine Irving-Taylor, was among them.
“Just want to thank the community for their support. We got support a lot of it, from Georgia to Winter Haven to Auburndale to Lakeland. I’m just grateful for the support, that’s all,” she said.
Police shot and killed Taylor the day after Christmas outside of a late night restaurant.
Officers said he was in a stolen car, but Taylor’s family claims the car was a rental that hadn’t been returned on time and loaned to the 17-year-old.
Police said Taylor sped toward them when they approached the car.
Those marching from the late night restaurant to the police department see the situation differently.
“The officer actually snuck behind the car. Ambushed the young man from behind, he was startled, he was actually, officer had a gun in his head in the back before the other officer got in front of him,” said Clayton Cowart.
Cowart organized Saturday’s event. He had the men wearing nooses around their necks.
Once at the police department, they placed them on the steps.
“The powers that be need to understand we’re not just going to sit back and let it happen. It’s happened so many times in America. All over the world we see it happen everywhere. If we stand up today and say, ‘look, not in our county, there’s some people gonna hold you accountable.’”
In the days following the shooting, Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens said he officers had no other choice.
“If they had turned out differently, he would have been charged with attempted murder of a police officer for his actions. That officer was placed in grave danger,” said Chief Giddens.
The police department is conducting an internal investigation into the shooting.
The state attorney’s office is also investigating.