Judge rejects PBA's injunction to shield name of TPD officer involved in shooting
June 4, 2020
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — A judge has denied the
to shield the name of a Tallahassee Police officer involved in a
The PBA had asked the judge to stop the City of Tallahassee from releasing the officer’s name, claiming he is entitled to confidentiality under Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment designed to protect victims of crime.
“We would contend that it is undisputed that the police officer in this case was the victim of an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon,” PBA attorney Stephen Webster said. He claims Marsy’s Law does not expressly exclude officers from its protections.
TPD says the officer shot stabbing suspect Tony McDade when he pointed a gun at him during a confrontation on Holton Street on May 27. That same day, the Tallahassee Police Chief cited Marsy’s Law in refusing to release the officer’s name.
Webster argued the timing of the police involved shooting — just two days after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis — has put the officer in danger.
“Suffice it to say the tumultuous times have certainly bled over into this matter,” Webster said, “and has created a well-founded concern for the officer that misguided or ill-intentioned people may try to exact some sort of revenge against him.”
Webster told the judge that shielding the officer’s name would not stop a grand jury review, an internal affairs investigation or review by the state attorney.
Assistant City Attorney Hannah Monroe did not argue against the requested injunction, but said shielding the officer’s name could violate the state’s broad public records law.
“We want to fulfill our obligation to be accountable to the public, that’s why we’re seeking a ruling from the court about the proper thing to do,” Monroe said during the telephonic hearing.
“While the officer’s conduct, we believe, and the facts that have been written in the injunction, were justified based on the use of force that he was presented with, we do not believe that that makes him a victim subject to the protection of Marsy’s Law,” Monroe said. “We do recognize that it is a complex issue and are also asking for guidance from the court.”
Circuit Judge Charles Dodson called the conflict a “constitutional question” that must be presented to Florida’s Attorney General and the State Attorney.
“This is certainly a case of great public importance not only under the facts of this case, but for other cases down the road that may deal with similar facts,” Dodson said. “I’m concerned about being asked to make a decision on a case of this great importance based on the record as it stand right now.”
Dodson denied the request for an emergency injunction.
“I’m not passing on the merits of either side of the case, I’m just saying I’m not in a position today to enter any kind of injunction,” Dodson said.
It is not yet clear yet based on the judge’s decision whether the City of Tallahassee will go ahead and release the officer’s name or continue to shield it until the issue can be resolved in court.