Police shot and killed a man at his niece’s wedding. Now, his family is suing.

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom
The fatal shooting unfolded in a situation that police quickly escalated, the lawsuit said.

Daniel Knight gathered to celebrate love at the newly opened ritzy Winter Park Event Center for his niece’s wedding.

But instead of love, there would be death.

A police officer shot and killed Knight, firing seven times at him at point-blank range — unjustifiable deadly force, according to a new federal lawsuit filed this week nearly two years after Knight’s death.

Mellisa Cruz, the mother of Knight’s two minor children, is suing the city of Winter Park, Police Chief Timothy Volkerson, Sgt. Kenton Talton and Officer Craig Campbell. The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 in the U.S. District Court’s Orlando division.

“Because this is in active litigation, we are unable to comment,” Winter Park spokesperson Clarissa Howard said in a statement to Florida Politics on Friday.

In February 2023, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell’s office said the police officers committed no crimes, pointing out Knight ignored officers’ commands and punched an officer. 

At the wedding with 100 guests, the 39-year-old Polk County man was drunk. An event center employee called 911 to complain Knight was “irate” and “acting violently, throwing people on the dance floor,” according to the lawsuit.

But the lawsuit said the event center employee hadn’t actually witnessed Knight behaving inappropriately and was not a threat to anyone. He was unarmed.

The shooting unfolded in a situation that police quickly escalated as Campbell aggressively approached Knight, the lawsuit said.

To the police, Knight’s “sisters continued to explain that Mr. Knight is their brother, that it is his first wedding, that he has PTSD, that he is not going to hurt anybody, and that he is ‘just drunk’” the lawsuit said. “Instead, Talton and Campbell continued to try to unlawfully apprehend Mr. Knight, even though they had witnessed no arrestable offenses upon their arrival. Witnesses continued to repeat, ‘he’s just drunk,’ and plead with the officers to just ‘hold on.’”

According to the lawsuit, Campbell grabbed the arm of Knight’s sister, who stood in front of Knight to protect him.

“Upon seeing Campbell grab his sister, Knight tried to defend her by hitting Campbell,” the lawsuit said. “After a brief scuffle, Talton escalated the situation when he used unjustifiable deadly force, firing seven rounds into Mr. Knight at point-blank range. Talton shot Mr. Knight just one minute and 52 seconds after he arrived on the scene.”

Police bodycam footage captured what happened next while people desperately performed CPR on Knight, who still had a pulse.

The lawsuit said, “After shooting Mr. Knight, Talton remained on the scene performing crowd control and interacting with witnesses for more than 12 minutes, even threatening to ‘lock up’ other guests.”

Knight died at the hospital.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 20, 2024 at 3:29 pm

    The popo in Nazi Park showed up and killed a man for no reason at all at a wedding even though no wedding guest summoned the popo? NO WAYS

Comments are closed.


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