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Officer involved shootings with second judicial circuit see grand jury for last 40 years

Posted at 6:12 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 13:23:54-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — For the last forty years, a grand jury was presented all the cases in the second judicial circuit involving law enforcement using deadly force.

State Attorney Jack Campbell said this includes any case with Tallahassee Police Department, as well as Leon County and Gadsden County Sheriff's Office.

He said bringing those cases before a grand jury is important, especially when a death is involved.

"Because of the incredible, serious nature," Campbell said. "Obviously, the use of deadly force is the most powerful implementation of state power possible. It is my belief and my Predecessor that in any time that when law enforcement uses that force, we should take it back to the people."

Local Criminal Defense Lawyer Nathan Prince said even though a case goes before a grand jury, it "doesn't mean there is any reason at all to think there was anything inappropriate or unlawful done by the officers."

He said in most officer-involved shootings, like the one involving Tallahassee Police at Valencia Square Apartments Friday, the state attorney will take the case to the grand jury to allow the public to be involved.

The grand jury is similar to a regular jury, with 15 to 21 community members. Each person is randomly selected and is of different ages, sex and race.

In order to proceed, at least 15 have to be present and it takes 12 members to indict.

The latest Florida second judicial circuit grand jury was seated in March and will serve for six months. For their protection, their identities are also secret.

"What happens most of the time in an officer-involved shooting, the state attorney will say this is what we think happened based off the evidence available," Prince said. "We don't think they did anything wrong. You should return a no true bill."

A no true bill is when the grand jury dismisses charges against the defendant, also called a "no bill."

Prince believes this ends up being the verdict because of the actions taken by police.

"Most of these are totally lawful shootings that have no bases for an officer to be indicted," Prince said.

Even still, it's up to the grand jury to make the final decision.