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City Commission Approves Creation Of ‘Citizens Review Board,’ To Examine Future Police Shootings

Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell, left, and Deputy Chief Tonja Bryant-Smith, address the City Commission during its June 3 meeting via video conference.
City of Tallahassee Periscope
Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell, left, and Deputy Chief Tonja Bryant-Smith, address the City Commission during its June 3 meeting via video conference.

Tallahassee’s City Commission wants to give citizens a chance to review evidence following future officer-involved shootings – but it wouldn’t apply to the fatal police shooting of Tony McDade last week. The board voted Wednesday to create a “citizens review board,” in partnership with the county commission and law enforcement agencies.

The idea was brought forward by Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox, a Southside resident who says “we’ve got to do some things differently.”

“The appointments to the board could be made by city and county commissions, to make sure that both are well-represented,” Williams-Cox told her fellow commissioners. She added the review board would not be looking at evidence from the Tony McDade shooting.

“It won’t help with what’s going on right now, but we could begin anew and have something in place, so that in the future, if something like this happens, heaven forbid, we have a place where citizens can be a part of looking at what actually happened,” Williams-Cox said.

Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell addressed the idea with the commission – but reiterated for now, the agency is following its current protocol.

“We are open to the discussion, and I think that’s the main thing: Is just to understand that we are all open to doing what our community wants us to do. And right now, we have to operate under the system which we currently have. But if our community comes together and says ‘we want that to change,’ we certainly would be on board with that as well.”

TPD Deputy Chief Tonja Bryant-Smith said the agency would have a prerequisite for people joining a citizens review board: They'd have to go through the agency's Citizens Police Academy.

While Revell was addressing the Commission, protesters marched to the doors of City Hall – though Wednesday’s meeting was held via video conference. At recent protests, demonstrators have chated “release the tapes” – in reference to a TPD officer’s fatal shooting of Tony McDade last week.

Revell said at the scene of McDade’s shooting that he didn’t know if body camera footage of McDade’s shooting exists, adding if it does, it won’t be made public until after a grand jury hearing.

McDade, a 38-year-old black transgender man whose death has made national news, is also accused of fatally stabbing 21-year-old Malik Jackson prior to being shot by police. TPD says McDade pointed a gun as officers were responding to the scene of Jackon’s stabbing. It is not known what happened between that moment and McDade’s death.

Revell didn’t give any specific updates on the case Wednesday. He did go on to defend the department’s training practices, saying de-escalation is taught in all TPD training.

"Many of the things being asked for, TPD has been doing for years," Revell said.

Mayor John Dailey briefly addressed the nearly week’s worth of protests and demonstrations that have happened around Tallahassee, saying: "We hear the community, we know that there are very frustrated individuals, mad individuals; we know there are changes that we must address, and we will.”

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.