Leon County Grand Jury Clears TPD Officers

Tallahassee Police Officers Derek Braxton and Jason Ravenel shook hands with their legal team and fellow officers including Chief Michael DeLeo after a grand jury determined they acted appropriately at a shooting outside Club Pierre June 15th.

Court records say Jacoby Hart threatened the officers with a gun and they fired injuring Hart.

"It's an important process, the grand jury serves the community, they're representative of the community and it's important for our actions to be reviewed," said DeLeo.

The grand jury also cleared Officers Clay Fallis, Derek Hawthorne and Kirk Watson after police opened fire outside Cheeks nightclub May 29th.

18 year old Duane Strong died after police say he nearly ran an officer over in his car.

State Attorney Willie Meggs says it's been policy for over 30 years to have a grand jury review police involved shootings.

There have been four in the last two months.

Meggs says he can't recall a string of police shootings so close together.

"Drugs and gang activity I think are probably the two driving forces behind the increase in gun violence," said Meggs.

Meggs also says a lack of respect for law enforcement is also a factor.

He says in the two cases the grand jury reviewed, officers responded to a potentially deadly threat.

"In both of these cases, they acted very bravely," Meggs said.

"These are tragic events that affect everbody's lives who are involved," DeLeo said.

"In both of these situations, all the folks had to do was stop," said Meggs.
"But their problem is they didn't want to stop because they'd been involved in crime and they're trying to escape," he said.

"We don't want any of these incidents to happen," DeLeo said. "We don't want suspects getting hurt either, but obviously, we're very grateful no officers injured or innocent bystanders were injured either," he said.

Chief DeLeo says in a few days the five officers currently on paid leave will return to their full duties.

Meggs says a July grand jury will review another officer involved shooting from last Thursday.

A previous grand jury cleared six officers in a fatal shooting near FSU's campus.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
June 24, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla -- A Leon County Grand Jury has cleared Tallahassee Police of any wrongdoing in two officer-involved shootings. The Jury made the decision this morning.

The shootings happened near Cheeks Lounge on May 29th and June 15th near Club Pierre. In both cases officers responded to threats from suspects with deadly force.

The grand jury cleared five officers of wrongdoing in the two cases. The two officers from the Club Pierre shooting, Derek Braxton and Jason Ravenel, as well as TPD Chief Michael DeLeo, were in court this morning when the decision was announced.

"These are tragic events that affect everybody's lives who are involved. Their family members, officers lives, it impacts them forever and their families as well. Regardless of who is shot, it's a significant event that we have to evaluate carefully and that's why the grand jury process is so important," Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said.

There have been four TPD officer-involved shootings in the last seven weeks. Grand juries have cleared officers in three of the four shootings.

State Attorney Willie Meggs says the most recent shooting last week will likely be reviewed by a grand jury next month.


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