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Winter Park police release body cam video after officer fatally shoots man at wedding reception

Body camera video indicates Daniel Knight punched two responding officers, knocking them to the ground, before he was shot and killed by one of them.

WINTER PARK, Fla. — The Winter Park Police Department has released more information, including body camera video and a 911 call, from the February night when an officer shot and killed a Polk County man at his niece's wedding reception.

The police department has said the purpose of sharing the video is to bring "clarity and context" to the deadly shooting.

Officers were dispatched at 9:39 p.m. on Feb. 19 to the Winter Park Events Center. A 911 caller described an "irate," and possibly drunk, guest at the wedding reception. The caller told police the guest was "being violent" and later added that he pushed two people to the floor of the ballroom.

"Anyone with authority is making him angry," the caller said.

Video from the venue showed fellow guest bringing 39-year-old Daniel Knight, of Mulberry, outside in an apparent attempt to calm him down.

Two Winter Park officers showed up. Police asked Knight to put his hands behind his back. He did not.

Bystanders could be heard on video saying he was just drunk.

An officer told a woman next to Knight to move away. She replied that she was his sister.

"He's not gonna hurt anybody," one bystander told police. "He doesn't have any weapons."

During the commotion, police could be heard asking Knight to put his hands behind his back and asking those around him to step away from him.

At one point, an officer grabbed Knight. Video then showed Knight punch the officer in the head – knocking him to the ground, unconscious. At that point, the second officer unsuccessfully tried to subdue Knight with a Taser. But, investigators say Knight punched that officer in the head, as well. 

The second officer fell to the ground – face down – where authorities say Knight continued to strike his head. Still conscious, video showed the second officer fired his gun repeatedly – hitting Knight.

Despite bystander and first responder efforts to save his life, Knight was taken to AdventHealth Orlando and pronounced dead.

Both officers were taken to the hospital, too, but later released.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting. The officer who fired his weapon was put on administrative leave during the probe into the deadly night.

The names of the two officers involved have not been released by the City of Winter Park, which has asserted that their identities are protected under Marsy's Law because they were victims of battery.

The city said both officers were experienced, with a combined total of 47 years in law enforcement between them. Winter Park police say neither has ever been investigated for any use of force complaint.

We took the video to Dr. David Thomas, a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. Thomas is a retired police officer with 20 years of experience in law enforcement.

Thomas says, based on his viewing, the shooting appears legally-justified. According to Thomas, both officers seemed defenseless after Knight knocked them to the ground. When the one officer's taser failed to stop Knight and Knight appeared to have kept attacking him, Thomas says the officer would have had to protect himself.

"When he's getting punched in the back of the head, he's, I know he's thinking, 'I'm gonna get punched in the head. I can't protect myself if I'm unconscious,'" Thomas explained.

Not everyone agrees.

Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc., which is assisting Knight's family, released a statement Thursday, describing Knight's death as an "unnecessary murder."

"The edited video clips released only establishes that Daniel's death could have been avoided, and the Winter Park Police Department's approach to the situation should  have been handled differently," the organization wrote.

The group said Knight did not deserve to die.

"His children should not be fatherless, his [fiancée] should not have [lost] her soulmate. His [parents] should not have had to bury their son. His siblings should no have lost their brother..." Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk Inc. added.

The organization said it was standing with the Morgan & Morgan law firm, which is representing Knight's loved ones.

"The only thing the video establishes is that Daniel Knight did not deserve to die; his family continues to mourn his death and we will fight for justice on their behalf," Morgan & Morgan attorneys Adrian Mendiondo and Farnita Saunders Hill added in a statement of their own.

10 Tampa Bay's Miguel Octavio and Jordan Highsmith contributed to this report.

RELATED: Police: Winter Park police officer shoots, kills man assaulting wedding guests

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