Escambia County Protests

Coalition asks DOJ to reopen investigation of Escambia County Sheriff’s Office

August 21, 2013

The newly-formed Coalition for Justice of Northwest Florida sent a letter on Monday, Aug. 18, to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice requesting the agency reopen its investigation of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The group’s chairman, Gerri Bell, cited the July 27 shooting of Roy Middleton in his driveway and the August 4 shooting of two dogs inside of their owners’ home as a “pattern of practice of excessive use of force related to civil rights violations” in Escambia County.

In January 2009, DOJ launched an investigation into the sheriff’s office and the county jail over allegations of excessive force and other abuses under the administrations of Ron McNesby and Jim Lowman. The DOJ issued on Sept. 4, 2012 a Remedial Measures and Technical Assistance report. While DOJ issued no findings of abuse, the agency did leave the option of reopening the case “should new evidence of a pattern or practice of constitutional violations emerge.”

According to Bell, the coalition was formed “to respond to the outright disregard and denial of rights, ECSO brutality, and other wrongs, violating civil and human rights of others in our community.”

The letter stated, “Our research disclosed a long standing pattern of abuse and blatant disregard by those with the authority to end such behaviors.”

The group believes that the DOJ’s warnings in the September 2012 report “have fallen on deaf ears” and accused Sheriff David Morgan of “strong arming the truth to hide abusive patterns.”

The Coalition for Justice of Northwest Florida will hold a press conference on Friday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. Movement for Change office located at 1603 N. Davis Highway.

They will be discussing this letter and responding to the recent cases involving Escambia County deputies who were involved with the shooting of Roy Middleton and the shooting involving the dogs of Christina Moses and Travis Nicholas. Plus, the CFJNWF will also be responding to comments made by Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan at recent press conferences and a Rotary event.

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  • Citizen August 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    The shoe doesn’t fit so well when it’s on the other foot, does it? The Sheriff was all giddy when DOJ came in to do their investigation in 2009. I doubt he’s feeling so giddy now. One of his problems and has been since he first took Office is one day, he listens to one person and makes a decision. The very next day, he listens to a different person and makes another decision on the very same issue. The Training Center was a much needed project and would have been money well spent. The Sheriff didn’t like the idea because Ronnie Mac initiated it. It was as simple as that.

  • Bob August 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    This is a clear case of throwing the racial card. More blacks are killed by other blacks. He wants to know why he was shot- well hear you go 1. Your neighbor(who now claims that he could see you complying) is the guy that called 911 and said there is someone breaking into a car. 2. The deputies rolled up and despite repeated commands to get out of the car with your hands up you decided to jump out of the car and spin around with a flashlight in your hand at 3:00 AM. Well the Sheriff’s office just had an officer shot no more than three months ago. I am sure they wish they knew what they know now but the truth is they didn’t. I have a suggestion- next time a crack dealer is cooking up some meth next door to you don’t call the law because they are so mean. Why don’t you just take care of it yourself like George Zimmerman! Wonder why the family didn’t get a white attorney?

  • jeeperman August 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Those training facilities are available.
    Just not within this county.
    Why duplicate training facilities that already exists elsewhere?
    We (Escambia County) do not have to “have our own” just because it would be more convenient or for chest thumping purposes.

  • jeeperman August 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    So this “Coalition for Justice of Northwest Florida” will be presenting the results of their “research” and
    disclose the long standing pattern of abuse and blatant disregard by those with the authority to end such behaviors.
    At their press conference.
    On Aug. 23rd, 2013.

    Right ???????????????

  • Dale Parker August 21, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I think that this is nothing more than knee jerk showmanship and a waste of the DOJ’s time. I think that I heard in a speech somewhere Sheriff Morgan citing statistics for the number of calls Vs Complaints and it seemed to me to be very reasonable, if not impressive. IF, is numbers are accurate and correct a reasonable person would not assume that there is a wholesale Civil Rights problem with the department.

    HOWEVER, there DOES seem to be issues with training, leadership and supervision at the Escambia County Sheriff’s department which the DOJ may shed light on, however, that issue falls squarely on the lap of Sheriff David Morgan.

    It has been written that in the first days of his Administration he cancelled a long planned, funded and staffed training center. Offended PJC decimating all the work that they had done developing the curriculum, caused widespread training access issues for several law enforcement agencies who was counting on this center. In short, it was a ill informed and juvenile decision.

    The result of that decision is what we are seeing today;
    1.) People shot in their yards.
    2.) Officers breaking into homes illegally.
    3.) Victims shot through closed doors.
    4.) More accidents by deputies.
    5.) Shooting accuracy… it seems that every time we have one of these shootouts, many shots are fired, rarely do the find their target.

    It is obvious now that this decision is catching up with him. He cannot get newly trained deputies and correction officers to fill his positions with the current local training, current deputies obviously need additional training in many areas. It is well known that Sheriff Morgan spoke prior to his election about unprofessional and uneducated deputies in which he intended to change that, ironically, he shut down the very facility that could have provided that for him.