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Orlando police officer arrested on manslaughter charge in fatal shooting at Colonial Plaza

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 6 days ago Jeff Weiner, Tess Sheets
a person standing posing for the camera © Provided by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Orlando police Officer Anthony Wongshue has been arrested on a manslaughter charge in a fatal shooting at a strip mall east of downtown last year, the Police Department confirmed.

Wongshue, 46, was booked into the Orange County Jail on Wednesday and released on bond just after 12:30 a.m. Thursday, records show. Court records indicate he was charged by indictment.

OPD spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Bernal said the officer “was notified of the indictment and subsequently turned himself in.”

“He remains employed by the Orlando Police Department on an administrative status pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings,” Bernal said in an email.

Wongshue’s arrest stemmed from a May 7, 2018, shooting in the parking lot of Colonial Plaza.

The Police Department said Wongshue and Officer Juan Abreu, a trainee, were responding to an unrelated crash when an employee from the Marshall’s store alerted them that two women were shoplifting.

The women entered a van driven by Juan Alberto Silva, 32. A cell phone video obtained by WKMG-Channel 6 showed the officers standing on either side of the van as it began to speed away.

One officer fired into the driver’s side while the other fired into a rear window, the video showed.

Officers found the car about a mile away and Silva was pronounced dead.

A police affidavit said Silva had “accelerated towards the patrol officer on the driver’s side."

The shoplifting suspects in Silva’s van, Jocelyn M. Villot and Brittany L. Chandler, were arrested by OPD on charges including felony murder.

However, prosecutors opted against pursuing that charge, which under state law can be used to prosecute for murder a person committing a felony if someone dies as a result of the felony.

Villot and Chandler both pleaded no contest to third-degree grand theft and resisting an officer without violence. A judge withheld adjudication on Villot, meaning she was not convicted. Chandler was adjudicated guilty, according to court records.

Wongshue and Abreu did not have working body cameras during the incident. The Police Department said Wongshue’s camera was not working and Abreu hadn’t yet been issued one.

After the shooting, Abreu’s family questioned why officers had opened fire. OPD enacted a policy in June 2016 which prohibits shooting into moving vehicles in most cases.

The agency’s directive says bullets are “extremely unlikely” to stop a car and disabling the driver “may cause the vehicle to crash and injure other members or innocent citizens.”

Other local agencies and many nationwide have embraced similar policies.

In November, an OPD officer again shot into a moving vehicle: a stolen car in a shopping center parking lot on Universal Boulevard. Body camera footage in that case has not been made public.

Wongshue was involved in another shooting in 2011, when he fired at a man who was believed to have shot a person at an Orlando nightclub. After the man led police on a chase down Mills Avenue, he exited his truck and began to flee, police said at the time.

Wongshue shot him near Leith Avenue. The man’s injuries were described as not life-threatening.

This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.

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