TAVARES, Fla. (CN) – About three dozen people gathered in pouring rain Thursday in this small Central Florida town to protest a Lake County Sheriff’s deputy’s killing of a man in his own doorway last weekend.
Friends of Andrew Lee Scott 26, stood with strangers to protest the killing that they claimed has been followed by official lies and cover-ups.
Brian Evey, Scott’s manager at Hungry Howie’s Pizza & Subs for 3 years and a friend for more than 6 years told Courthouse News he was there for justice, a sentiment echoed by the crowd’s chants of “Justice for Drew!”
Drivers honked horns and gave thumbs-as they drove by the busy Main Street intersection, home to the county jail, courthouse, judicial center and tax collector’s office.
Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Sylvester shot Scott after deputies knocked on his door at the Blueberry Hill apartment complex in nearby Leesburg at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, said Lake County Sheriff’s Lt. John Herrell.
The Sheriff’s Office said Scott answered the door holding a gun.
Deputies said they were looking for “an attempted murder suspect,” who eventually was found in a building next door.
An ABC News affiliate, WFTV.com, reported Wednesday night that Jonathan Brown, the suspect, was in fact a battery suspect until about an hour after Scott was killed. This was fresh on the minds of the protesters.
“I just found out about the charges, “Evey said. “The charge was changed to justify the actions (deputies) took. I just hope the Sheriff’s Office stops covering everything up.”
Michelle Evey, 26, said that Andrew Scott, known as Drew, was like family to her.
“It’s close to home, “Michelle Evey said.
She said she wanted the Sheriff’s Office to change its policy on announcing its presence when knocking on someone’s door.
After the shooting, the Sheriff’s Office said that the deputies had announced themselves as law enforcement before or while knocking. But the Sheriff’s Office retracted that statement and called it a “minor detail” that the deputies “didn’t announce and identify themselves,” according to WFTV.com .
Scott’s friends said he would be alive if the officers had identified themselves.
“We need to prevent this from happening again. This could happen to anyone,” Michelle Evey said. “They need to change procedure.”
Scott’s former roommate Ian Shrivnauth agreed.
“If someone is going to come pounding on your door at 1 a.m., they need to announce who they are,” he said.
Mark Schmude, who took the day off from his home security business to take part in the protest, never met Scott.
“I didn’t know the victim, I just know it’s wrong,” Schmude said.
The group walked traveled from the corner of Main Street and Sinclair Avenue to the front door of the sheriff’s headquarters on Ruby Street.
As an employee walked out, Schmude yelled, “[Sheriff Gary] Borders, you might as well peel your name off that door, you won’t be sheriff next year.”
Borders faces challenger Sandy Carpenter in an open primary on Aug. 14.
Schmude, the father of three sons, said it could have been him or one of his sons in the same situation.
“We do have the right to bear arms. If I open my door at 2 a.m., I’m going to be packing too,” he said.
Protesters stayed for several hours and Brian Evey said this protest likely won’t be the last.
A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday in front of Scott’s apartment.