The video showing the incident that lead to the death of Army Combat Medic Combat Veteran Gregory Edward’s from December 2018, is expected to finally be released to the public next Friday.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey refused to release the video citing security exemptions in the Florida Statutes that allowed him to keep the video of Edward’s beating from the public eye.
Protests from throughout the County and pressure from leaders in the community from both sides of the aisle and even the public defenders office fell on deaf ears to the Sheriff. Ivey’s reasoning for not releasing the video was not credible to critics as he regularly filmed reality TV shows inside the jail without redactions, showing all of the security features he claimed to be concerned about revealing.
His actions led to him gaining an opponent this election, Alton Edmond a criminal defense attorney who said he was running because of the Sheriff’s lack of transparency on this issue and his budget.
Florida Today eventually filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff to force the release of the video. After several delays and continuances, an agreement has finally been met.
But there’s still more controversy. The original agreement had the video being released on November 11th, which is Veterans Day. An attorney for the petitioner stated that she believes once the Sheriff’s office realized the day was Veterans Day, it caused them to ask for yet another delay. The Sheriff’s attorney stated their reasoning was to give the employees who would be visible in the video time to be informed of its release.
However, the attorney for Florida Today doesn’t buy it. She believes they are stalling to avoid the video being released on Veteran’s Day as Edwards and his wife are both decorated Combat Veterans.
“We are not naive to the fact that this is coverage that is going to be in the newspaper and that there will be people in the community who will likely find fault and there may be threats and there may be issues,” Moody said. “I’m at a loss for why that’s unreasonable.” Moody is the attorney for the Sheriff.
Edwards was arrested for assaulting a volunteer in the Walmart parking lot in West Melbourne, in what his wife described to officers as a PTSD episode.
Edwards resisted being booked into the Brevard County Jail resulting in an altercation with at least seven deputies. Edwards was punched, kneed, tased, pepper-sprayed and then strapped in a restraint chair with a spit hood over his head and pepper spray still on his face. Paramedics were called after deputies later found him unresponsive in his cell. He died the next day at a local hospital.
The Sheriff conducted an internal investigation of the incident and found his officers acted appropriately, and found no wrong doing. They were in fact praised by the State Attorney’s office for their handling of the incident.
What the Sheriff never disclosed to the public was that the deputy who Edwards originally got into the altercation with at the jail, was intimately involved with the female deputy who responded and repeatedly tased Edwards during the incident. During the investigation of the incident, she refused to give a statement.
They were both seen out together partying in Downtown Melbourne for a birthday party several hours later.
Both of those deputies no longer work for BCSO and are now active duty officers of the Melbourne Police Department.
Whether or not the video would have had an impact on the election results for the Sheriff who won with 66% of the vote, we will never know. But Edmond’s race certainly made a statement to the Sheriff.
Although he easily defeated Edmond, 1/3rd of the County voted for a 30 year old attorney with no experience what-so-ver in law enforcement, who was fired from his position at the Public Defenders Office, and out-funded nearly 3-1 by the Sheriff’s campaign.
This election result is identical to Ivey’s first race against what some would argue was a more qualified candidate and actual law enforcement officer, and didnt come with the baggage and history of Edmond.
No matter what the video shows, we encourage members of the community to express themselves in a non-violent manner and respectfully, as we try to make our community better form this incident instead of worse. There are lessons to be learned for all involved.