Conflicting evidence: Deputies say they shot teen once; autopsy reveals two wounds

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

An autopsy Friday revealed that a murder suspect who died in a shootout with deputies had two gunshot wounds. But the Broward Sheriff's Office says their man fired only a single bullet.

"The Broward Sheriff's Office only had one person who fired one shot," said Elliot Cohen, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. "If Taylor was hit by more than one bullet, the only other person that I'm aware of that was firing a gun was Taylor himself ... Beyond that, I would wait for any official determination as to where the second shot came from."

Relatives of Michael Lee Taylor, 19, angry at the Sheriff's Office after the shooting, declined to discuss the second wound, other than to say it couldn't have been intentionally self-inflicted.

"Michael wouldn't do that," said Taylor's aunt, Nikita Rolle. "He's been going to church since he was a baby, that's against his religion."

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department declined to discuss the details of the case or name the deputy who shot Taylor because they are still investigating the shooting. But the Sheriff's Office gave a detailed rundown of the events leading to Thursday's shooting.

They also said the sole shooter, a patrol sergeant, has been placed on administrative leave, as is routine in police shootings. Cohen also declined to name the sergeant, saying it was Fort Lauderdale's case. He did say the sergeant is a six-year veteran with an "exemplary" record at the agency.

Taylor's autopsy was finished Friday morning by Lance Davis, assistant medical examiner. Davis said he couldn't say where the second bullet came from or whether the two were of a similar caliber.

"Both of the bullets went completely through, so I don't have any bullets to compare," Davis said. "We're still waiting for some other tests to come back."

Authorities say Thursday's shootout stemmed from the June 9 shooting death of Freddie Lee Edwards along the 3100 Block of West Sunrise Boulevard last week. One of two men who were with Edwards later picked Taylor out of a photo lineup as the shooter, Cohen said. Detectives also have a witness who saw Taylor fire shots at Edwards and the others, Cohen said.

Detectives obtained a murder warrant and went to find Taylor, who was on probation for battery on an emergency official, resisting arrest, burglary and grand theft, corrections records show. On Thursday, their search took them to Taylor's grandmother's house in the 1400 block of Northwest 7th Terrace.

Cohen said detectives saw Taylor's car in the driveway and called for backup, thinking he was at the home. Nine deputies staked out the area, he said. As three detectives walked up to the house, they heard gunshots coming from behind them, Cohen said.

"They turn around and they see Taylor with his gun pointed at their direction, firing at them," Cohen said.

Cohen said the sergeant, recently trained in a new Sheriff's Office rifle program, fired one shot from a police AR-15 assault rifle, striking Taylor. He said detectives later recovered a semi-automatic handgun and four shell casings from the street near Taylor's body.

Taylor lay dying less than one block from his grandmother's home, where relatives heard the shots. They raced toward the corner of Northwest 14th Street and Northwest 8th Avenue where a shouting match escalated into a small fracas with pushing, pepper spray and batons.

"It was like war, for a good 30 minutes," said Taylor's god-sister and neighbor Nishea Graves, 29, who said she was among those pepper-sprayed.

The neighborhood was quiet Friday afternoon where Rolle lay flowers near where Taylor died. She said deputies shouldn't have killed her nephew.

"There has to be another way," she said.

Brian Haas can be reached at or 954-356-4597.


Michael Lee Taylor's aunt tells the family's side of the story in a video report at

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