Mom questions son's shooting death by Lakeland police | News
WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. -- Debbie Kenning is still trying to comprehend how her oldest son, 42-year-old Rob Cortes, ended up dead on his own doorstep. He was shot and killed March 15 after Lakeland police say he came to the door armed with a gun, then refused orders to drop the weapon.
News of her son's death two weeks ago came not from officers, but from Rob's girlfriend, who called the following morning. "To this day, I have not heard one word from the Lakeland Police Department," said Kenning from her Winter Springs home.
But the lack of notification is the least of Kenning's concerns. At this point, she's desperately seeking answers about what happened and why police felt forced to fire.
"He's not a violent person. He's very much a meek kind of guy. Answers 'Yes sir, no sir,'" said Kenning of her son.
Police say they responded to Rob's mobile home after his estranged girlfriend called asking officers for help to retrieve personal belongings following a fight. When Rob came to the door, he was carrying a gun, a weapon investigators say was used to threaten the officers.
But Rob's mother says several witnesses have now come forward claiming that's not how it happened.
"I don't think he knew it was the police. When he found out it was the police, he put the gun down. The gun was down. He had his arms up in the air," says Kenning.
10 News spoke with one of those witnesses over the telephone who believes she saw Rob's hands empty just before officers opened fire.
Kenning has driven twice from her home near Orlando to Lakeland Police headquarters in search of answers. Investigators so far are not sharing any information until they're able to finish the investigation.
"He was complying and they opened fire on him, supposedly because he made a suspicious move. I want to know what that suspicious move was," asks Kenning.
Both officers involved remain on paid leave as the investigation continues. As for his mother, her only wish now is to understand what happened.
"If it was an error in judgment and he did threaten them, then I still mourn his loss, but he made a mistake. If he did not make a mistake, then what happened?"