'It's not uncommon': Florida deputies draw guns, handcuff wrong suspect while he was at work

FOX 35 News is following up on a story we first told you about earlier this month.

An Orange County man says deputies pointed guns at him, put him on the ground, and handcuffed him in front of clients and coworkers while he was working in Winter Park. 

It turns out, deputies had had the wrong guy. 

Demarquis Smith says he didn’t realize they were law enforcement officers until they put cuffs on him, and he hasn’t fully recovered from the encounter.

"That's the first thing that I see, like even when I go to sleep. Still to this day, I just see two circles with a flashlight and that's what it was like," said Smith. "Four guns with a flashlight on it." 

He says the whole thing was embarrassing, it was confusing – but more than anything, it was terrifying.  

Smith’s wife, Dasahana Honore, filed a complaint October 3rd, the day after the Orange County Sheriff’s Office put her husband in handcuffs. 

Ten days later, the family hadn’t heard anything from the Sheriff's Office. 

"This was a bad thing," said Honore. "But that's why I'm that's why I'm doing all these interviews after making all these phone calls to make sure that this doesn't happen to him or anybody like it." 

The person the Sheriff’s Office says they intended to arrest is Shamell Shameek Sanchez. 

He’s 5’11" and 170 pounds. That’s 4 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than Smith.

Smith says for him, one of the bigger issues is that he never got an apology.

"It was kind of like excuses," he said. "Like, ‘Oh, it happens. It's life. Stuff like this happens all the time.’ And I'm just explaining to them like how I feel. I even at a moment, had to walk away because I, like, broke down and cry." 

When FOX35 first asked about the detainment, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement,

"The felony unit of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is tasked with tracking down the most violent at-large suspects in our community. These are also the most dangerous fugitives, who have active warrants for felony crimes. It’s not uncommon for deputies to detain someone suspected of a crime or who has a warrant for their arrest while their identity is verified and charges are confirmed." 

Court records show Sanchez was wanted for domestic battery by strangulation – a third-degree felony, which is the lowest level – plus a first-degree misdemeanor for domestic battery. 

Two days after Smith was detained, Sanchez turned himself in "voluntarily and without incident," court records say.

He was let out on bond the same day. 

"I just feel like frustrated because, like, it didn't have to be it didn't have to get this bad," said Honore. "We'd never gotten an apology. So that's number one. That's priority right now." 

After FOX 35 went with Honore to the sheriff's office, she got an email from a Sgt. Rick Stelter, the Supervisor investigating the case. The family got a call a few days later, too.

St. Stelter says he’s still reviewing the deputies’ body camera video. FOX 35 requested that video from the sheriff's office, but the records request is still open. 

Honore says Sgt. Stelter told her and Smith over the phone that OCSO hoped to have an update on the family’s complaint on October 20. 

"I feel like they should ask a little more questions, do more investigating than just acting because this could have been prevented if they just did a little more research," said Honore.

FOX 35 News asked the sheriff’s office to interview about this, but they responded that they can’t make comments that involve complaints under review. We then asked if Sheriff Mina would instead talk more broadly about what happens after a person is detained due to mistaken identity, and how often things like this happen. The sheriff’s office again declined.