Community mourns as family of teen killed by police asks for investigation

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A community is coming together to remember a teen shot and killed by a Lakeland police officer.

Michael Taylor, 17, was shot by an officer Wednesday during an incident in the parking lot of a restaurant. Police say Taylor drove a stolen car toward an officer, prompting officers to fire their weapons.

Family and friends, however, are asking for an independent investigation into the events leading to Taylor’s death.

They held a vigil in Winter Haven Saturday. Taylor’s mother, Valentine Irving was there and talked to FOX 13 News about the community’s outpouring of support for her family.

“I want to just thank my city. I don't have a way to be sad. Look at all these people,” Irving said about the crowd that gathered, holding candles and balloons.

Irving thanked the community for standing by her side since her son's death.

It happened Wednesday around 2 a.m. in the parking lot of Salem’s restaurant in Lakeland.

According to the Lakeland Police Department, officers were called to disperse a large crowd gathering outside the restaurant.

When they arrived, they spotted a Camaro they say was reported stolen. Taylor was behind the wheel.

Surveillance video captured the moments that followed.

Officers approached the car with their guns drawn. That's when Taylor drives away, towards an officer, who fires at the car, hitting Taylor.

Lakeland police officials say the officer fired because he feared for his life.

The attorney for Taylor’s family says they want to be sure protocol was followed.

“What really happened? I will most certainly tell you, based on what I have heard and what I've seen, with law enforcement's story, doesn't comport with the facts,” said attorney Michele Rayner-Goolsby.

Rayner-Goolsby said the family is asking for an independent investigation into the events that lead to Taylor’s death.

Meanwhile, the community continues to mourn and his mother remembers her son for his brave personality.

“Mike was fun and jovial. Like my sister said, he was fearless. The first time we went snorkeling, I was so scared and he said, ‘I'll go first.’ So Mike was fearless,” Irving said.

The three officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, per department protocol.

The investigation is ongoing.