Wife of wounded Orlando LEO sues apartment complex, gunman's estate
Officer Kevin Valencia remains in a coma following the encounter
By Tess Sheets
ORLANDO — Meghan Valencia, the wife of injured Orlando Police Officer Kevin Valencia, is suing the estate of the man who shot her husband and the owner of the apartment complex where he was injured, saying the incident would not have happened if it followed proper security measures.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Kevin Valencia, seeks damages in excess of $15,000, alleging negligence on the part of the owner of Westbrook Apartments, SPT WAH Westbrook, LLC, and the apartment’s managing company, Pinnacle Property Management Services, LLC. The complex and its owner should not have allowed Gary Lindsey, 35, to reside in the building because of his extensive criminal history, the lawsuit says.
In June, Lindsey shot through the front door of Apartment 127 at responding police officers who came to investigate a call that Lindsey battered the mother of his two children. Kevin Valencia was shot in the head, sparking a 21-hour standoff with police as Lindsey retreated into the apartment.
When officers breached the apartment late the next day, they discovered Lindsey had killed himself and four children inside the home.
Kevin Valencia remains in a coma following the encounter, and spent the remainder of the year at a medical center in Atlanta before being transferred to Central Florida in February.
The lawsuit describes Lindsey as a “violent career criminal, with multiple arrests and/or convictions for violent crimes.” At the time of the shooting, Lindsey was on probation from a 2008 Volusia County case, where he was accused of domestic battery, arson and fleeing law enforcement. He received a 10-year suspended prison sentence, which was never enforced despite him violating his probation multiple times.
While responding to the domestic violence call in June, the lawsuit alleges a key to the apartment given to Valencia from Lindsey’s girlfriend didn’t work when he tried opening the door. The woman, Ciara Lopez, told him the lock “often did not work correctly,” the complaint states. Previously released records say Valencia thought Lindsey may have been holding the lock shut.
Because of that, “Kevin was forced to attempt to kick in the door,” the complaint states, which put him in a position to be struck by Lindsey’s bullet.
The suit says the companies were negligent by failing to take proper precautions to protect people on the property “from dangers which were reasonably foreseeable” and should have known Lindsey “constituted an unreasonable and dangerous risk to tenants, tenant’s guests, invitees and others” at the apartment complex.
The companies did not run a criminal background check on Lindsey and nor did they provide working locks and keys to apartment, the suit alleges.
The complaint says Lopez, who was not named as a defendant, did not put Lindsey on the lease.
The lawsuit also includes Lindsey’s estate, saying he acted “intentionally and recklessly” when he shot at Kevin Valencia. The suit “demands judgment against [Lindsey] for all damages available under Florida law.”
Attorneys for SPT and Pinnacle were not listed Thursday. A call to Pinnacle’s administrative office was not immediately returned.
©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)