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Appeals Court rules to keep names of Tallahassee officers involved in shootings confidential

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 2:16 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 2:44 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Florida appellate court has ruled in favor of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, keeping the names of Tallahassee police officers involved in shootings under wraps due to Marsy’s Law.

The ruling reverses the trial court’s order, which had directed the City of Tallahassee to disclose public records, revealing the officers’ identities.

It also reverses the trial court’s judgment that Marsy’s Law cannot apply to officers when acting in their official capacities.

After three officer-involved shootings in March and May of 2020, the City of Tallahassee prepared to release the names of the police officers involved; the Florida Police Benevolent Association opposed that disclosure.

The PBA argued that the officers were victims of a crime, and therefore afforded the anonymity protections of Marsy’s Law. After Judge Charles Dodson ruled against the PBA, they appealed to the First District Court of Appeals.

The Circuit Court case involved filings from News Media organizations, arguing that the Tallahassee Police Department failed to respond to public records requests that would identify the officers involved in the shootings.

The appellate court ruled that a police officer meets the definition of a crime victim under Marsy’s Law “when a crime suspect threatens the officer with deadly force, placing the officer in fear for his life. That the officer acts in self-defense to that threat does not defeat the officer’s status as a crime victim.”

Big Bend PBA President Richard Murphy reacted to the news with relief.

“We’re excited about this protection. We’re humans, we’re part of the community just like everyone else, and we deserve the same protections,” said Murphy. “This is a supercharged environment, I mean you don’t know what might happen. Officers’ lives were being threatened, being threatened online, and they need their identities protected. This is a protection passed by the state, and this is what it was meant to do.”

The City Attorney, Cassandra Jackson, also released a statement.

“As always, the City of Tallahassee respects the deliberations and decision of the First District Court of Appeal. The Court has determined that police officers, when acting within the scope of their public duties, are afforded the protections of Marsy’s law as crime victims. The City will carefully review the Court’s decision in evaluating whether to appeal,” Jackson wrote.

You can read the court documents at this link or below.

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