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Ivey Doesn’t Get It.

We’ve entered the Twilight Zone in the case of Gregory Edwards, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, and Edwards’ widow, Kathleen.

Over the weekend, Ivey announced that he would allow the FDLE to conduct and investigation into the death of Edwards while in the custody of the Brevard County Sheriff’s office at the County Jail.

This would be a turn around by Ivey as he had blocked the FDLE from an independent investigation of the incident at the jail not once but twice. It sounds like a good thing, but it isn’t.

This case has primarily gained local attention requesting an additional independent review by some members of our community as a result of the demonstrations currently taking place around our country following the unacceptable death of George Floyd,” Ivey said in a statement issued Saturday.

The review by the state’s top investigative agency will not involve a second investigation, as some, including Edwards’ widow, have demanded. Under the terms of the review, FDLE agents will simply go over the investigation already conducted by the Sheriff’s Office to determine its validity.

Ivey said the FDLE will have full autonomy and independence so that nobody will be able to question further the integrity of his department. In 2017, Sheriff Ivey announced that he would no longer call the FDLE into do third party public integrity investigations of deputy-involved shootings or in-custody deaths, saying that his agency was capable of policing itself.

But in this review, Ivey said the FDLE can take their findings straight to the State Attorney’s Office.

“I have personally asked that should FDLE find any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of our deputies or the West Melbourne police officers involved they are requested to immediately take those findings to the state attorney’s office for prosecutorial consideration,” Ivey said. (emphasis ours)

This means that despite Ivey’s posturing, FDLE is not conducting an investigation, but rather a review of the investigation that Ivey and the BCSO did. It’s the same review as Ivey touts as being done by the State’s Attorney’s Office who said they found no wrong doing.

There is a huge difference between an independent investigation where investigators are free to roam, interview and follow up on information which is what needs to happen, and a review of the paperwork of Ivey’s internal investigation.

Ivey’s least favorite news outlet published an article on some of the issues in Ivey’s claim of “transparency” in this case and it is disturbing.

For example, Ivey initially called the West Melbourne police and told them not to release the video footage of Edwards they had recorded. The City Attorney told the City they should release the videos and they did, much to the anger of Ivey.

In addition,

But contrary to Ivey’s assertion of transparency in the Edwards case, the BCSO has often acted to keep information and records about the event – as it did with the West Melbourne police videos – out of the public realm for as long as possible. Every effort to delay, conceal or restrict information from being released has been documented by FLORIDA TODAY from official emails, exchanges with lawyers, and text messages.

Over the 18 months since Edwards died, the BCSO has sought to slow down and even prevent the release of photos, videos and use of force reports from the case, even after the investigation was concluded. His office cites various statutory exemptions, ranging from security to federal laws on patient privacy.

In February this year, the Sheriff’s Office claimed that photographs taken by a BCSO crime scene investigator of Edwards after he had been taken from the jail to the Rockledge Regional Medical Center were medical records exempt from release.

The Florida Attorney General, however, had ruled in previous cases that medical records had to be made by a health care practitioner. The photographs were taken by a BCSO employee and maintained by the Sheriff’s Office. It took the threat of a lawsuit before the BCSO released the photos to FLORIDA TODAY showing a bruised, comatose Edwards handcuffed to a hospital bed.

Ivey has also personally lashed out at a state official who questioned the findings of the autopsy report by Brevard’s medical examiner that concluded Edwards’ manner of death was an accident, and that he died of “excited delirium,” a rare and controversial medical condition.

After Dr. Stephen J. Nelson, the chairman of the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, gave a differing opinion on the cause of Edwards’ death, Ivey called him.

“He was upset,” Nelson said of the call that lasted about eight “unpleasant” minutes.

Nelson said Ivey questioned why Nelson would critique another medical examiner’s work. Nelson pointed out to Ivey that the investigation was closed, and the autopsy report is a public record.

[….]

Nelson said Ivey asked him if he had spoken to the state attorney or medical examiner prior to speaking about the case.

“I said: Sheriff, let me explain something to you. I said these records are kept as public records … so anybody can come and look at them and draw their own conclusions.”

“I don’t believe that this is excited delirium,” Nelson said he told Ivey of Edwards’ death, adding, “What it is: I’m not sure, but he’s (Qaiser’s) not substantiated, to my mind, that it’s excited delirium.”

Nelson said Ivey “continued to go on,” saying “I think it’s very inappropriate for you to be reviewing somebody else’s work, and, you know, you realize now this is civil litigation and now you’re a witness in the civil litigation.”

“And at that point, I felt like saying: Sheriff, are you witness tampering now?”

Nelson didn’t but described the conversation as “inappropriate.”

Ivey has continued to press a narrative that does not fit the facts of even the conclusions of the Brevard County Medical Examiner.

Sheriff’s investigators seemed fixated on Edwards’ possible “huffing” or use of inhalants to get high as a potential key factor in his death, and the theory was pursued throughout the medical examiner’s case. BCSO lead criminal investigator in the case, Agent Jennifer Straight, sent several emails to the medical examiner’s office about the toxicology results.

Deputies went to a hardware store and photographed the list of ingredients on cans of the electronics cleaners like those found in the Edwards home and sent them to the medical examiner’s office. Despite multiple tests, all Edwards’ toxicology results repeatedly came back negative except for a therapeutic quantity of the active ingredient found in the antihistamine Benadryl.

Ivey still insists Edwards was huffing and that it somehow contributed to his death but offers no evidence in support of it.

“The doc — medical examiner’s — diagnosis of cause of death, excited delirium, fits perfectly in place when you consider all of the facts, and the facts that drove this was him huffing aerosols for hours,​​​​” Ivey said on WMMB’s Bill Mick Live show in November, making no mention of the negative toxicology reports.

This is why Ivey allowing FDLE to “investigate” means nothing. FDLE can’t follow up and question the Medical Examiner, or Dr. Nelson, or even talk to the Melbourne Police. The agreement is that they can only review what the BCSO provides.

However, things took a bizarre turn this past Sunday night when 6 Deputy Sheriffs and Sheriff Ivey showed up at the door of Edwards widow in response to a “wellness check request” from another veteran based upon postings on Edwards’ social media.

Flanked by half a dozen deputies, Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey paid an unannounced nighttime visit Sunday to the Grant-Valkaria home of the widow of Gregory Edwards who is demanding the release of a jail video showing a confrontation leading to her husband’s death.

After deputies called Kathleen Edwards to step outside for a welfare check, she said Ivey walked out of the dark, “grabbed” and hugged Edwards, whom he had not met until that moment.

Then the sheriff invited her along with one other person to see the video of the fight between corrections deputies and her husband in the Brevard jail that ended with Gregory Edwards being tased, pepper sprayed, strapped in a restraint chair.

We have no idea why a wellness check would require seven members of law enforcement, which oddly enough is the same number of deputies involved in the incident at the jail.

While Kathleen Edwards is heard on the tape thanking the sheriff for the offer to see the tape, her reaction afterwards is quite different:

Edwards said she was summoned outside by deputies who asked her if she was willing to meet the sheriff. Edwards, who has been calling for an independent investigation and to see the video of her husband’s confrontation at the jail, told them, “no.”

“But he came anyway. I was so scared for my life, there were six cop cars parked outside of my house, then they called me on my cellphone telling me to come outside,” said Edwards, a single mother who was home with her sister when they noticed the patrol cars, including some that were hidden.

“He hugged me and recorded it. This shouldn’t be happening. For them to just come to my house like this. It’s disrespectful. I’m a veteran, I’m just thankful to God I was able to hold it together. I just want to be a mom to my babies and to be safe,” she said before breaking down in tears.

Several neighbors and veterans responded to her home after she called for help before going out to see the deputies.

“If my sister wasn’t here, what would have happened to me and my kids? I didn’t know what to do. I tried calling my lawyer, I called Alton Edmond,” she said, referring to the lawyer and community activist challenging Ivey for the sheriff’s job in November.

Edwards said the surprise meeting left her feeling uncomfortable. She questioned why the sheriff didn’t call her attorney to schedule a meeting. She said she immediately thought of her children, not knowing what was going happening to her when she stepped outside and saw all the deputies there.

“For me to see those male deputies in front of my house, it’s like no one is taking in consideration the mental health aspect of all this. My husband was an army medic, devoted to other veterans. We thought this was a safe place for us,” she said before dropping her head down in tears.

“I wanted them to leave so I just went out. I don’t feel safe in my own home,” she said, sitting in her living room in front of several portraits of her husband along with the American flag she was presented at his funeral.

We are willing to say that Edwards was scared beyond belief. We are willing to say that she is making statements to make Ivey look bad and support her lawyer who is running against Ivey.

We don’t have a clue as to which account – the look of caring officers or the look of a scared widow – to believe.

Ultimately, it is not Edwards’ credibility that is on the line.

It is Ivey’s.

When asked about the incident, the BCSO responded with this statement:

“Out of respect for Mrs. Edwards’ privacy, the Sheriff’s Office will not be commenting on the nature or purpose of tonight’s service call at her residence,” Tod Goodyear, spokesman for the sheriff’s office said while confirming deputies recorded the event for an unknown reason.

After that statement, on Monday Ivey was interviewed about the visit to Kathleen Edwards’ home by Fox35.

In a span of several hours, the BCSO went from “we won’t comment” to Ivey making comments on a television station out of Orlando.

Someone has to explain to us how Ivey went from “we aren’t commenting” to commenting on the incident.

What changed?

In essence, nothing changed.

In both responses, Ivey and the BSCO are trying to control the message. He tells the FloridaToday “no comment” because he is at war with them, but then talks to Fox35.

That’s not transparency. That’s not the “openness” that Ivey touts and likes to make people believe.

Frankly, if six police cars showed up outside our door, we’d be frightened too.

For Ivey and the deputies to not understand how that show of numbers and force would be interpreted by the average person, much less Edwards, is troubling and shows how clueless the BCSO has been in this entire mess.

We’ll leave you with these couple of thoughts:

She has said she wants to see the case, to see all of it, from start to finish and so I offered last night,” Sheriff Ivey told with FOX 35 News on Monday.

What took so long? Why didn’t this woman and her family know the entirety of the circumstances surrounding the death of her husband from the get go? Why did Ivey try to bully the West Melbourne PD, another Medical examiner, and prevent the FDLE and State’s Attorney’s office from a full and complete investigation?

Secondly, Ivey said:

“[Gregory Edwards death has] been exploited for agendas, it’s been weaponized for political reasons, and she doesn’t deserve that,”

In many ways we agree with that statement. But this case was not on the national radar 18 months ago. Ivey could have ended all speculation but choose to attack those who disagreed with him, and not release all of the evidence so people could see for themselves.

The question then becomes “was this case handled in such a way that Ivey and the Sheriff’s Office would not look bad?”

From the very beginning, we have said “if there was nothing to hide, why not release the video?”

There is political pressure, but the pressure wouldn’t have built up if Ivey had done the right thing 18 months ago.

If people were exploiting the death of Edwards, releasing the video would have ended the exploitation.

Ivey’s so called offers of the FDLE investigation and his offer to show Kathleen Edwards the video comes far too late and if not an act of desperation, it certainly is an act of someone who is clueless as to the perception his actions continue to foster.



2 Responses to “Ivey Doesn’t Get It.”

  1. Thomas Gaume says:

    FDLE needs to do an investigation into the coverup.

    Above Ivy was quoted “evidence of wrongdoing on the part of our deputies or the West Melbourne police officers involved”

    What about the Sheriff himself?

  2. Carla says:

    Ivey’s actions are, at best, questionable. He is just trying to sweep this under the rug. The tape needs to be released so not only Edwards’ widow can see it, but so everyone can see it. He wants people to think this “review” by FLDE means he is being open and honest. However, Ivey used to work for FDLE and presumably has friends there. Like you said, this is only a review, not an investigation. I don’t understand why FDLE didn’t do an investigation from the beginning. There is no way any law enforcement agency should be allowed to investigate itself! Release the tape!

  3. […] A good example is Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey acceding to protestors that he release the video of the death of Gregory Edwards while in custody of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. If not release it, at least show the […]

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