Osceola County Sheriff’s Office deputies opened fire on four suspects believed to have stolen Pokémon cards and a pizza, Vice reports. One died after being transported to a hospital, while two others were charged with petty theft.
Multiple units converged on a Target in Kissimmee, Florida last Wednesday night in response to a black Audi with obscured registration tags, according to an affidavit written by a Deputy Cole Miller and obtained by Kotaku.
Upon spotting two teenagers—who were immediately deemed “suspicious” for wearing hoodies and masks in the middle of a global pandemic—exit the vehicle, officers were reportedly told by a loss prevention officer inside the Target that the same teens were seen concealing Pokémon cards and a pizza. Miller says he confirmed these details via surveillance footage after the fact.
While Miller’s charging affidavit spares no detail describing the events leading up to the shooting, what happened when the alleged suspects left the store is murky at best, thanks in part to his account utilizing the vague, passive voice often employed in these situations to distance police from their actions.
“Contact was attempted with the black Audi by multiple units after circling the parking lot and being occupied by others,” the affidavit reads. “A takedown was attempted which resulted in an officer-involved shooting.”
The ensuing hail of gunfire described by witnesses on the scene injured both suspects and fatally wounded another. A fourth suspect was also detained, according to the Orlando Sentinel, but it’s unclear if they were charged. All were taken to a local hospital, with one survivor still unable to make a court appearance as of April 28. None of the suspects were reported to have been in possession of any weapons.
The two sheriff’s deputies responsible for the shooting will not be named due to a Florida law that, in part, shields police involved in fatal shootings from having their identities made public. Both officers are in “good health” after killing an unarmed man for stealing Pokémon cards, Osceola County Sheriff Marcos López relayed during a press conference on Wednesday night.
“I believe my deputies are justified in all their actions,” Lopez told a local Fox affiliate. “I have […] 200% trust in everything they do based on their training and their experience. Things escalate. This is the real world.”
While supply is finally starting to catch up with demand, Pokémon cards were for a time considered a valuable commodity for collectors and scalpers alike. Target previously instructed employees to call the cops on customers lining up outside stores before they opened at the height of the recent craze before briefly halting sales of the cards altogether last May.
This latest tragedy serves as a grim reminder that “Serve and Protect” may be law enforcement’s de facto mission statement, but it comes with an implicit “Property” attached to the end.