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Leon County Judge Delays Decision On Use Of Marsy's Law, Protecting Name Of Officer Involved In Shooting

Tony McDade's Facebook Live
Tony McDade's Facebook Live

A Leon County judge hearing an emergency request to block the name of a Tallahassee police officer involved in a recent shooting says he won’t immediately issue a ruling. The case centers on whether a police officer can claim victim privacy rights under Florida’s Marsy’s Law Constitutional Amendment.

The Police Benevolent Association is suing the City of Tallahassee to keep the name of the officer who fatally shot Tony McDade a week ago, private. In its arguments before the court, the police union said officers should have the same rights under Marsy’s Law as every other citizen.

PBA attorney Steven Webster says the officer who killed McDade has been threatened, both at the scene and on social media.

"This officer's absolutely defensible, understandable, predictable acts of self-defense have been unfairly lumped in with the acts of other police officers for which he had no involvement," Webster told Leon County Judge Charles Dodson Thursday during the hearing.

In its response to the request for an emergency injunction, the City of Tallahassee writes that officers are often treated differently under the law than the general public and that they have a lower expectation of privacy while on duty. The city acknowledges the confidentiality provisions of Marsy’s Law, the First Amendment and the “need for public accountability among law enforcement,” which has been recognized by Florida Courts.

The city is asking for a ruling as soon as possible. Activists are calling on the city to release the name of the officer. McDade alluded to a standoff which police in his last Facebook live video. In the runup to his death, he’d been in a fight with five men and vowed revenge. He fatally stabbed 21-year-old Malik Jackson before he was shot to death by the TPD officer.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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