search
top

Ivey And Edwards Revisited.

It is difficult to not think of the George Floyd case these days. It is hard for us to sit here and think that the man had to die. Police and citizen interactions are always complicated. Police, by the very nature of the job, generally see the worst in people. While we are sleeping snug in our beds, they are dealing with some lowlife beating his wife. While we are at work in our 9-5 jobs, they are at the door of someone’s home telling a parent, sibling or child that their loved one won’t be coming home ever again because they were killed in a random shooting, drug overdose or accident with a DUI driver.

While we are cognizant of the job police do (and most do it well,) if there is a group that can relate to the stress, anxiety, and death of friends, it is veterans. It is the men and women who protect our country and its values who can most closely relate to the police officer on the beat.

Which brings us back to the case of veteran Gregory Edwards.

We wrote a little bit about this case the other day, saying:

Gregory Lloyd Edwards, a 38-year-old army medic who served in Iraq and Kosovo, was arrested in West Melbourne about 11:30 a.m. Dec. 9. Officers had been called to Walmart Supercenter on Palm Bay Road to investigate reports of a man acting erratically and jumping into a truck packed with Christmas toys.

Kathleen Edwards says the sheriff’s office has not responded fully to requests for information about her husband’s death.

Gregory Lloyd Edwards, a 38-year-old army medic who served in Iraq and Kosovo, was arrested in West Melbourne about 11:30 a.m. Dec. 9. Officers had been called to Walmart Supercenter on Palm Bay Road to investigate reports of a man acting erratically and jumping into a truck packed with Christmas toys.

By 2:45 p.m. the same day, Brevard County Fire Rescue paramedics were called to the county jail. They found Edwards unconscious and without a pulse. He initially had been moved from booking to the jail’s medical building.

An investigation by the Florida Today shows at least 14 violations of BCSO policies the day of Edwards’ death.

Other medical examiners have called into question Edwards’ listed cause of death:

Dr. Stephen J. Nelson — the chief medical examiner for Florida’s 10th Medical Examiner’s District and the chair of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Medical Examiners Commission — said his review of the autopsy report suggests that Edwards’ death was likely a homicide and not an accident as the Brevard medical examiner ruled earlier this year. He also said that the Brevard medical examiner failed to determine what exactly killed Edwards.

FDLE was called in to investigate the death only to find that the BCSO had initiated its own investigation which meant that FDLE was precluded by law from doing its own investigation.

Was the BCSO investigation an “accident” of sorts or a planned maneuver to keep other neutral and unbiased law enforcement agencies from looking into the conduct of BCSO officers that day?

That answer is speculation, but what is not speculation is that there is a video tape of the incident taken from within the jail.

Ivey has refused to release the video.

If you aren’t familiar with the case, here’s a little background:

Edwards, a 38-year-old army medic who served in Iraq and Kosovo, was arrested Dec. 9, 2018, during a trip to Walmart with his then pregnant wife after acting erratically and jumping into a truck packed with Christmas toys.

Edwards, who had a history of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatments, fought with a worker before being subdued. West Melbourne police took him into custody then transported him to the Brevard County Jail Complex where Edwards struggled with a corrections deputy. Both fell to the ground.

Records show that as many as seven deputies responded to the scene to subdue Edwards as surveillance cameras rolled. They punched and kneed Edwards, pepper-sprayed him, Tased him six times, cuffed him, strapped him into a restraint chair, punched him some more, and put a fine mesh spit hood over his head, before leaving him alone in a cell.

That video footage has been withheld from the public and from Edwards’ widow.

[….]

Last year, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined that the agency did not have any independent or lawful authority to investigate any ‘local law enforcement matters that have been or are already being investigated by local authorities.’ The agency made the determination after reviewing a complaint made by Kathleen Edwards.

In 2017, Ivey decided he would no longer use third parties like FDLE to investigate shootings or other incidents involving his deputies. Instead, he said, his agency would conduct its own internal reviews before providing its findings to the state attorney’s office for any final determinations.

(Why wouldn’t Ivey want to use the FDLE for independent investigations? After all, he worked for the FDLE. Is he saying he doesn’t trust the FDLE and the people who work there? Or is he saying he is worried what an independent FDLE investigation may find in this and other cases? It makes no sense to us.)

In lieu of the George Floyd death, Kathleen Edwards again called for the release of the video of what happened to her husband in the jail and in the care of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Once again, her request has been denied.

The Florida Today asked Sheriff Ivey for a quote or a response to Kathleen Edwards request. The response from Ivey is unbelievable:

As a preamble to the actual quote the paper would use, Ivey wrote:

Earlier today you requested a quote from me regarding the article you plan to write regarding Mr. Edwards. Attached please find my quote in response to your request and understand that this quote is not to be taken out of context or utilized in any capacity without being printed in it’s entirety. Understand that you do not have my permission to chop or piece meal this quote as the citizens need to see my entire response and not part of it!! You asked for a quote from me on this matter so I expect to see it in your story!!

I have also taken the liberty of contacting and requesting quotes from several of our community leaders here in Brevard County who have gladly shared their views about our agency and their relationships with me. They have given permission for their quotes to be used in your article as they are extremely relevant to what you are trying to do to our community so I will be very interested to see if you use them as your readers deserve to see what our relationship is TRULY like with our citizens!!

(Ivey must be really serious about this. After all, he is using two exclamation marks at the end of sentences.)

Here is the quote Ivey sent for publication:

“I am appalled and like others in our community, deeply concerned by the Florida Today’s blatant and obvious attempt to incite civil unrest in our community, by trying to dig up and report on an almost 18 month old case, at a time when our entire nation is embroiled in crisis. While communities all around us have faced violence, riots, and vandalism, our community and faith based leaders have served as a model for the nation to use in response to this very concerning crisis, tragedy and loss of life!! Even more saddening, you have previously written multiple, and I do mean multiple articles on this particular case and you know without question that after thorough independent reviews, Mr. Edwards death, while tragic, was ruled by the Medical Examiner and State Attorney to have occurred with no criminal violations or wrongdoing on behalf of any of our Deputies!! Your attempted manipulative actions are inflammatory to this amazing community that in this time of national crisis is holding candlelight vigils, peaceful gatherings, and demonstrating solidarity, all, while you are trying to resurrect a historical case that was deemed to have no wrong doing. If you truly had wanted to report facts, you are in possession of several thousand pages of records, including videos that you could have simply posted long before now, to allow your viewers complete access to the very thorough investigation and all interactions with both Mr. and Mrs. Edwards. Your attempted inflammatory actions at this time of crisis in our country are sickening and disgusting, but sadly predictable and expected…Shame on you!! Thankfully, our Brevard County citizens love, trust and protect their Law Enforcement Officers just as much as we love, trust and protect them and their rights, including the right to demonstrate and express their personal opinions!!”

Sheriff Wayne Ivey

Ivey is being disingenuous here.

The so called “investigation” into the death of Edwards was done by his own department after a independent investigation by FDLE was denied.

The Brevard Medical Examiner’s findings have been called into question.

A top-ranking Florida medical examiner has called into question the findings of the autopsy of Gregory Lloyd Edwards, a 38-year-old combat veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, who died last year after a fight with corrections deputies at the Brevard County Jail.

Dr. Stephen J. Nelson — the chief medical examiner for Florida’s 10th Medical Examiner’s District and the chair of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Medical Examiners Commission — said his review of the autopsy report suggests that Edwards’ death was likely a homicide and not an accident as the Brevard medical examiner ruled earlier this year. He also said that the Brevard medical examiner failed to determine what exactly killed Edwards.

Edwards died on Dec. 10, 2018, a day after being rushed to the hospital from the jail where an altercation with a corrections officer during the booking process escalated to involve as many as seven other deputies who beat, pepper-sprayed, tased and cuffed Edwards before securing him in a restraint chair with a spit hood over his head.

Brevard’s medical examiner, Dr. Sajid Qaiser, concluded that Edwards died of “excited delirium and complications” due to “hyperactive and violent state with subsequent restraint.” He ruled the manner of death as an accident. Excited delirium is a rare and controversial condition that is often linked to violence involving law enforcement officers.But Nelson, whose district covers Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties, said he cannot agree with Qaiser’s findings.

“The conclusions, to me, from the autopsy are not supported by the autopsy,” said Nelson.

“I’d want to know more about why somebody is calling [a death after] an interaction with law enforcement an accident. When if in fact that same interaction between you and I, I would think they would call homicide,” Nelson said.

“An accident is an unintentional injury. If you’re going to wrestle somebody to the ground, pin them to the ground, sit on them, do whatever, I don’t think that’s an accident.”

When a medical examiner determines a death to be a homicide it does not necessarily mean that a crime has been committed. It only means the death was the result of the actions of another. A state attorney or a grand jury determines if the death is a culpable homicide subject to prosecution.

Finally, State Attorney Phil Archer’s review was of what the BCSO presented to him, not what he or his own investigators looked into. Archer’s conclusions were based what the BCSO told him. Nothing else.

In this case, you have an medical examiner whose reports and conclusions are being questioned by a more qualified examiner, a non-independent investigation, a denial of an independent investigation and a review of documents presented by the BCSO.

One of the things that police will always tell people is “show is. If you have nothing to hide, show us.”

Maybe that sentiment only applies to citizens and not to the Sheriff’s Office. If it does, release the tape of what happened. Pictures don’t lie. How hard is that?

As for the idea that law enforcement doesn’t release surveillance video, we offer this image and description from a USA Today article:

A still image from surveillance video show Gregory Lloyd Edwards as he is transported in the back of a police car. The 38-year-old veteran got into a confrontation with a deputy during his booking process on Dec. 9, 2018, and Edwards was beaten, kneed, sprayed with a chemical agent, shocked with a stun gun, handcuffed and strapped into a restraint chair with a spit hood covering his face. The decorated Army medic died the next day at a hospital. (Photo: West Melbourne Police Department) (emphasis ours)

Does the Melbourne Police Department know they don’t release surveillance video? Or is the lack of release of video only done by some agencies who “have nothing to hide.”

Kathleen Edwards said this and it rings true:

It’s not just about black people. When you see what’s been happening, whites have been killed also,” Edwards said, speaking about any number of high-profile cases that have garnered national attention.

“So yes, I’ve been seeing the protests, the riots. I’ve seen a lot of these videos. Honestly, it’s getting bad. But people are realizing that this is not just a black problem.”

We are not willing to down the path that all cops are evil. We can’t and we won’t go there. To us, this is not about the treatment of a black man, this is about the treatment of veteran of the United States military. A medic no less which means Edwards didn’t carry a weapon and served by helping wounded and doling out medical care to whoever needed it.

Ivey has made veterans and the care of veterans in jail a so called “priority.” He has started and touts the S.A.V.E. program for veterans within the jail:

S.A.V.E. Program – Saving American Veterans Everyday

The S.A.V.E program is designed to target the needs of the inmate Veteran population. The program identifies and assist the inmates who have proudly served our country in the armed forces. This program will give our Veteran inmates the ability to partake in a multitude of programs, such as Anger Management, Life Skills, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Chaplain Services. They also have access to community coaches and volunteers. Inmate Veterans who participate in this program will be housed in a uniquely designed pod to meet their needs, and assist in their transition back into society. The S.A.V.E. program reduces recidivism and ensures our Veteran inmates are given the resources which will enable them to effectively re-enter the community.

US Army Medic Gregory Edwards never made it to the S.A.V.E. program. He was never interviewed for it. He was never enrolled in it.

He was simply dead while in the custody of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

To us, and to some others we have talked to, this is about the death of a veteran.

While we understand in today’s environment, it is easy to focus on Edward’s race, we are not going to do that. We are going to look at his service, and the problems he had adjusting back to life away from the carnage he witnessed.

It is our opinion that every vet, every VFW hall, every person – left or right leaning – should look at this case and say “how does not releasing the video of Edward’s death honor him, his service, and his family?” and call for the video to be released or at least show it to Kathleen Edwards.

We just went past a very rainy Memorial Day in which we pay homage to those who died in the service of their country, but Veteran’s Day is approaching. That is a day when we pause to honor those who served. That is a day we thank vets for their service and their selfless acts of standing between us and harm’s way. On that day, and for every Veteran’s Day that follows, Kathleen Edwards and her children will remember how Gregory Edwards lived, but not knowing how he died.

If Edwards had died in the hills of Afghanistan, or the streets of Kosovo, his family would know the circumstances of his death through communications with his friends and members of his unit.

Instead, the Edwards family has to live in darkness as to how Edwards died back home on American soil.

That’s wrong.

It is a wrong that can be corrected by one simple act by a Sheriff who claims to care, but his actions don’t say that in this case.

Release the daggone video. Let people see the truth.



2 Responses to “Ivey And Edwards Revisited.”

  1. Carla says:

    Thank you for covering this story. I have a feeling that if the public saw the video, they would be just as outraged over Gregory Edwards’ death as they are at George Floyd’s. Everything we know about Edwards’ death stinks – from the secrecy and propaganda out of Ivey’s office to the presence of deputies in the coroner’s office, to the lack of an independent investigation and the refusal to release the video.

    Gregory Edwards’ widow, also a veteran, deserves better than that. She deserves the truth. Sheriff Ivey needs to be compelled to release the video.

    Also, if Minnesota can use state prosecutors instead of the local prosecutors in the George Floyd case, why can’t Florida use state prosecutors to at least look at the evidence in the Gregory Edwards case?

  2. Janna says:

    The entire excuse Ivey gave today for not releasing the video because it would compromise his security in the jail is bogus. This fool did an entire reality TV show INSIDE THE JAIL! It’s insanity and he is straight up lying and needs to be called out on it.

  3. […] More voices are calling for the release of the video of an incident at the Brevard County Jail where Gregory Lloyd Edwards, a 38-year-old army medic, died while in custody of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. […]

top