PBA files emergency injunction to keep officer-involved shooting name under wraps

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 5:41 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 2, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida Police Benevolent Association has filed an emergency injunction to block the City of Tallahassee from releasing the name of the officer

The document identifies the officer only as "John Doe," arguing he is protected under Marsy's Law.

Immediately after the shooting on May 27, Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell said the officer has the power to protect his identity.

"The officer is a victim just like anybody else in these cases, so Marsy's law kicks in immediately," said Chief Revell. "The officer is afforded the same rights as any victim as to whether or not they choose to release their name, so we will make sure they are aware of that."

The motion describes Marsy's Law as a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 2018, designed to protect the rights and privacy of crime victims.

It gives new insight into what police say occurred on Holton Street that led up to the shooting.

The motion says McDade ambushed the officer, producing a firearm and pointing it at him; it argues that made the officer a victim of the crime of aggravated assault.

The motion argues that the officer has fear that the release of his personal information will give rise to potential harassment of him and/or his family. It says the officer was "threatened by persons who were on scene" and that there has been "ongoing animosity expressed against him on social media since he was forced to defend his own life."

Some members of the public, including the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, are upset about what they call a lack of accountability and transparency.

The Florida Police Benevolent Association Big Bend President Richard Murphy wrote in a statement:

"Our officers have the same rights under Marcy's Law as every other citizen. The officer involved is a victim of an aggravated assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer. It is unfortunate that the officer and the PBA have to seek a court order to protect the rights of a victimized law enforcement officer, but this is where we find ourselves."

However, Pamela Marsh, the President of the First Amendment Foundation, disagrees with the PBA's interpretation of Marsy's Law.

Marsh says police actions should be transparent.

"One of the reasons that law enforcement got behind Marsy's law was because it incentivizes people to come forward and report a crime. But now, law enforcement is using that to hide information, and I don't believe that was the intent of the amendment when it went before Florida citizens," said Marsh.

Marsh says there has been widespread confusion about the meaning of Marsy's Law; there is pending litigation in Jacksonville regarding the sheriff releasing names in an officer-involved shooting.

She says she expects the issue to be handled in the courtroom, rather than the legislature.