MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The family of a woman killed by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper during a traffic stop last week have hired high-profile civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and want to pursue legal action against the trooper.
Latasha Walton, 32, died after troopers said she tried to flee following a traffic stop near the Golden Glades Park and Ride last week.
"I am on a relentless pursuit for justice for my sister," said Alphonso Wright, Walton's brother.
Trooper Ronald Melendez-Bonilla said he was forced to open fire here at the Golden Glades Park and Ride last Tuesday -- after Walton tried to use her car as a weapon, driving it straight at him.
Wright said her death was unnecessary.
"There was other tactics he could've went through besides pulling the gun on my sister," Wright said. "She was our provider. She was our support system, our backbone. She was everything to us."
A cellphone video shows Melendez-Bonilla drawing his gun while trying to stop Walton's white BMW. She was initially pulled over for driving erratically.
The video shows another trooper behind the car as it veers towards Melendez-Bonilla, knocking him to the ground.
As soon as he gets to his feet, Melendez-Bonilla opens fire.
Paramedics pronounced Walton dead at the scene. Her BMW was left covered in bullet holes.
Crump said he plans to meet with prosecutors Tuesday, urging them to pursue criminal charges in this case. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting under standard procedure.
"Everybody who I have spoken with who saw the video, the first question they ask is, ‘Why did he have to shoot?’" Crump said. “This was a highway patrol officer who we believe did not follow his training, violated their policies and procedures."