A Florida police officer who was left in a coma after being shot in the head during a stand-off with a domestic violence suspect in 2018 has died of his injuries nearly three years later.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon tweeted a statement on Monday, announcing the passing of Kevin Valencia. He leaves behind wife Megan and their two young sons, Kaleb and Kolton.
‘Officer Valencia risked his life for people he didn’t even know — a risk that many in the law enforcement profession take without question,’ he wrote. ‘Since that tragic night, Officer Valencia has been fighting for his life with his family by his side.’
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Orlando police officer Kevin Valencia (left and right) passed away on Monday, nearly three years after he was shot in the head by a domestic violence suspect
Body camera footage shows the moment Valencia approached the suspect’s door before trying to kick it down on June 10, 2018
Police motorcycles are seen escorting Valencia’s body after his death on Monday
The incident in June 2018 that ultimately led to Valencia’s death nearly three years later involved career criminal Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr, who killed his four children, ranging in age from one to 12, and then himself after attacking his girlfriend and barricading himself inside an apartment in Orlando.
Valencia was shot in the head after attempting to kick down the door to the apartment on the orders of his superior.
Career criminal Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr killed his four children and then himself after attacking his girlfriend and shooting Valencia
Valencia suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma, before his transfer a month later to a rehabilitation facility in Georgia.
He officially retired from the Orlando Police Department in October 2020 after more than three years in the force, and was awarded the department’s Purple Heart, reported Orlando Sentinel.
Valencia’s wife said at the time that her husband was beginning to show signs of improvement, including rubbing her hand and kissing her head.
‘It was just everything I needed in that moment,’ she told Fox 35. ‘My heart was kind of like, “He’s still in there!”‘
In his statement on Monday, Rolon described Valencia as a ‘hero, husband, father, son, brother, and friend who selflessly gave his life to protect the city he served.’
When police entered the apartment following a day-long standoff, they found Lindsey’s four children, identified as Dove, 1; Aidan, 6; Lillia, 10; and Irayan, 12, dead inside
The incident took place at Westbrook Apartments in Orlando, Florida (pictured)
The chief said Valencia’s wife and sons ‘will always be family to the Orlando Police Department’ and pledged to do all he can to honor the fallen officer’s legacy and ensure his sacrifice is never forgotten.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer tweeted that the entire city was mourning Valencia’s passing.
‘He put his life on the line and made the ultimate sacrifice,’ the mayor stated. Our prayers and support go out to his family, friends and co-workers as we honor his life and his selfless service to our community.’
The deadly standoff in Orlando began unfolding on June 10, 2018, when Ciara Lopez fled Westbrook Apartments to a 7-Eleven and called the police for help, saying that her boyfriend, Lindsey, had attacked her.
The woman managed to escape but left her four children locked in their bedrooms in the apartment with Lindsey.
Valencia had served on the force for more than three years. He is survived by wife Meghan (pictured together, left and right) and two sons, Kolton and Kaleb
Valencia and other officers responded to the domestic violence calls and tried to enter the apartment with a key given to them by Lopez, but it broke off in the lock.
Fearing for the safety of the children, Orlando Police Sergeant Amanda White ordered Valencia to breach the front door, at which time Lindsey opened fire and struck the officer in the head.
When police finally entered the unit following a day-long standoff, they found Lindsey’s four children, identified as Dove, 1; Aidan, 6; Lillia, 10; and Irayan, 12, dead inside. The suspect was also dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Meghan Valencia is pictured sobbing while speaking about her husband just days after the shooting in June 2018
The medical examiner reported that children were killed from bullets from Lindsey’s .380-caliber handgun, which he had stolen from his father.
An internal affairs review later concluded that Sgt White acted in violation of department policy, albeit ‘in good faith,’ when she ordered Valencia to kick down the door.
During one interview with investigators, White said she had a ‘gut feeling’ that ‘there was something wrong inside’ because no sounds were coming from the apartment, which raised concerns for the children’s safety.
In January 2020, White was handed an eight-hour suspension for acting outside Orlando Police Department’s policies.
Lindsey, a career criminal with a history of arson and domestic violence charges, was meant to be on community control – a form of supervised probation which includes house confinement – until the year 2045.
In October 2020, Meghan attended a ceremony during which her husband officially retired from the police department
The order was made by a judge a month before the events of June 2018 after he violated probation for an arson incident a decade earlier by stealing from a shop, according to court records seen by CBS 19.
After that incident his probation officer said he posed no threat to the community but still recommended he be jailed for six months. However, a judge decided to give him supervised probation instead.
Meghan Valencia sued the apartment complex and Lindsey’s estate in 2019, arguing that the apartment management should not have allowed Lindsey to live in the building, which she claimed lacked adequate security. Court records indicate that the civil lawsuit was settled earlier this month.