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Crime State police agency says it has 'no authority' to investigate Brevard jail death

20:00  06 december  2019
20:00  06 december  2019 Source:   floridatoday.com

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Citing a technicality, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it will not open a criminal investigation into the death last year of U.S. Army combat veteran Gregory Lloyd Edwards who was beaten, tased, pepper sprayed, strapped into a restraint chair and deprived of medical attention for 29 minutes.

a man standing in front of a military vehicle: Gregory Lloyd Edwards was a US Army veteran combat medic.© Courtesy of Kathleen Edwards Gregory Lloyd Edwards was a US Army veteran combat medic.

The decision, communicated to Edwards's widow Kathleen Edwards in a November 19 letter, was provided to FLORIDA TODAY Wednesday by an FDLE spokesperson. It followed a review of the complaint by Kathleen Edwards that was referred by the Office of the Inspector General on November 6.

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It is unclear what the review of the FDLE's Office of Executive Investigations consisted of, or whether it included looking at any video footage from within the Brevard County Jail that captured the confrontation between Edwards and upwards of seven deputies on December 9, 2018. That footage has so far been exempted from public records disclosure by the Sheriff's Office.

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Kathleen Edwards and several Brevard County community leaders have called for the release of the video, as well as an independent investigation into Edwards' death and his autopsy, which has also been called into question by experts.

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Previously: State agency opens review of combat veteran's death at Brevard Jail

Kathleen Edwards could not immediately be reached for comment. One of her friends and neighbors, Brent Jackson, a US Army veteran, expressed disbelief at the FDLE's decision.

"I don't understand that," he said. "How do they justify that?"

In their letter, signed by FDLE Director Scott McInerney the agency said that "FDLE does not have any independent or lawful authority to interject into local law enforcement matters that have been or are already being investigated by local authorities."

a little girl that is standing in the grass: Gregory Edwards' daughter visits his grave© Contributed by Kathleen Edwards Gregory Edwards' daughter visits his grave a group of people standing together smiling for the camera: Family friend Brent Jackson speaks at a press conference last month. Community leaders, members of the NAACP, veterans and friends of Gregory Lloyd Edwards, who died while in custody, held a press conference outside the medical examiner's office demanding an outside investigation of the cause of Edward's death.© MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY Family friend Brent Jackson speaks at a press conference last month. Community leaders, members of the NAACP, veterans and friends of Gregory Lloyd Edwards, who died while in custody, held a press conference outside the medical examiner's office demanding an outside investigation of the cause of Edward's death.

"I agree they don’t have the authority to override an investigation but they do have the authority to investigate whether somebody’s rights have been violated," said law enforcement consultant and former Deputy US Marshal Randy Foster.

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That said, he had "no confidence" in the FDLE to investigate anything.

"It needs to be an FBI investigation because his civil rights were violated," he said, noting his own experience as a federal law enforcement agent responsible for thousands of violent inmates over 25 years.

"I dealt with America's most wanted, incredibly violent prisoners, murderers, mass murderers, terrorists, gang members, and never once did anyone die under my custody or supervision. And if they were injured, they would be given medical attention immediately," Foster said.

Edwards died following an altercation at the jail during his booking process on December 9, 2018. He was arrested at the West Melbourne Walmart for allegedly assaulting a charity worker. He appeared to be suffering from mental health issues related to his diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder at the time.

Foster sees a conflict of interest for the FDLE to investigate the Brevard County Sheriff's Office because Sheriff Wayne Ivey was a long-serving veteran of the agency  until he ran for office in 2012.

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"I say it over and over again: you can’t investigate yourself. There’s a conflict of interest if you investigate somebody who works for you or had worked for you," he said.

"If the FBI looks into it and says, ‘there’s nothing there,’ I can accept that. I think the FBI can be a lot more fair and objective," Foster said.

Randy Foster, retired Supervisor Deputy US Marshall & Air National Guard Military Police, asks for an outside investigation at a press conference. Community leaders, members of the NAACP, veterans and friends of Gregory Lloyd Edwards, who died while in custody, held a press conference outside the medical examiner's office demanding an outside investigation of the cause of Edward's death.© MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY Randy Foster, retired Supervisor Deputy US Marshall & Air National Guard Military Police, asks for an outside investigation at a press conference. Community leaders, members of the NAACP, veterans and friends of Gregory Lloyd Edwards, who died while in custody, held a press conference outside the medical examiner's office demanding an outside investigation of the cause of Edward's death.

Jackson agreed, noting "seems to me that you’ve got the fox guarding the hen house. I guess it’s gonna take political pressure because something’s gotta happen."

Brevard Democrats spokesperson Melissa Martin, a retired Marine Corps Major, echoed their disappointment.

"It’s incredibly unfortunate, not only for the family but the integrity of the process itself," she said, adding: "There are a lot of questions that will apparently go unanswered."

"If you wanted to breed mistrust between people and their own law enforcement this is exactly how you do it," Martin continued.

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An investigation by FLORIDA TODAY revealed the violation of at least 14 BCSO policies in the handling of Edwards, mostly related to the denial of medical attention following use of force.

Related: Army veteran's treatment in Brevard jail violated sheriff's office policies

Whether or not Edwards' autopsy will be subjected to review by the Medical Examiners Commission is unclear at this time.

Polk County Medical Examiner and Chair of the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, Dr. Stephen J. Nelson, as well as famed former New York medical examiner Dr Michael Baden, who recently questioned the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, have called into question the cause and manner of death ruling on Edwards' autopsy.

More: Top medical examiner doubts Army veteran's death in Brevard jail was an accident

Edwards death was ruled an accident caused by “excited delirium” a controversial diagnosis associated mostly with police involved deaths.

"This would be a homicide: death at the hands of another," Baden previously said upon reviewing Edwards' autopsy files.

More: Excited delirium: Rare and deadly syndrome or a condition to excuse deaths by police?

FLORIDA TODAY confirmed the FDLE review on November 14. That same day, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office called an FDLE commissioner. Questions about that call to the BCSO Spokesman Tod Goodyear and Sheriff Ivey went unanswered. Instead they provided the following statement:

Eric Shinseki, Samantha Mumba posing for the camera: Gregory Lloyd Edwards with his wife Kathleen Edwards.© Courtesy of Kathleen Edwards Gregory Lloyd Edwards with his wife Kathleen Edwards.

“Sheriff Wayne Ivey and the members of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office remain unwavering in our commitment to protect our citizens and community!! It is our belief that ‘it takes a community to protect a community’ as we all work together to keep Brevard County a safe place to call home!!”

Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon is a watchdog reporter at FLORIDA TODAY.

Contact him at 321-355-8144, or asassoon@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @alemzs

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: State police agency says it has 'no authority' to investigate Brevard jail death

Child shoots mother in parked car at shopping plaza, Fort Lauderdale police say .
FORT LAUDERDALE - A mother was hospitalized early Thursday afternoon after her child shot her in the parking lot of a shopping plaza in downtown Fort Lauderdale, police said. The accidental shooting happened at 1:45 p.m. at 2510 West Broward Blvd., a police spokeswoman said. Fort Lauderdale police have released few details other than "child got hold of a gun inside vehicle and accidentally shot mother.”The injured mother was taken to a hospital as a “trauma alert,” police said.Police did not disclose the child’s age or gender or whose gun it may have been.———©2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.

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