Sources confirmed Wednesday that members of an Osceola County grand jury have started hearing testimony that could result in charges against two deputies for a deadly shooting outside a Target last year.
The jury was convened by State Attorney Andrew Bain, who changed his office’s policy in September so that any law enforcement use of force incident would be reviewed by a grand jury, which would recommend for or against charges.
Bain’s predecessor, Monique Worrell, and a team inside her office took it upon themselves to conduct the review, which she said promoted accountability but led to lengthy delays.
By law, the grand jury process is secretive, and few details are known about the testimony, schedule or when a decision could be made. However, sources connected to the process said Wednesday’s hearing was one of several, and more meetings would be convened later in November.
The shooting happened in April 2022, when a group of young men, including teenagers, stole Pokémon trading cards and pizza from the Target.
The sheriff said deputies were training nearby when they heard the theft call, and jumped into action. Security camera video showed dark cars surrounding the fleeing group and attempting to box them in. The cars appeared to be unmarked and didn’t have lights or sirens activated.
An attorney for the group said they panicked and rammed cars in order to escape, not realizing their pursuers were law enforcement. That’s when two deputies opened fire, killing 20-year-old Jayden Baez. A federal lawsuit has been filed in the case.
Bain has assigned some of the circuit’s highest-profile prosecutors to the case, including Ryan Williams, who has run for State Attorney multiple times since starting in the office in 2006, and Will Jay, a homicide prosecutor with more than 20 years experience. Both refused to acknowledge the existence of the grand jury proceedings or provide any statements Wednesday.
Both Bain and Sheriff Marcos Lopez’s communications teams did not respond to requests for comment either.