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Legal Battle Over Releasing Name Of Officer Who Killed Tony McDade Continues

police cars are parked along the road of a brown apartment complex. A tree is in the background.
Ryan Dailey
TPD officers on scene at Leon Arms apartments on May 27, when an officer shot and killed Tony McDade.

The legal battle over whether to release the name of the Tallahassee police officer who shot and killed Tony McDade in May continued Monday.

The Florida Police Benevolent Association in June sued the City of Tallahassee to keep the officer’s name, and another officer who was at the scene when McDade was killed, from being made public. News media outlets and the First Amendment Foundation moved to intervene in the suit, arguing for the release of the officers’ names.

Attorney Stephen Webster represents the Florida PBA. He argued Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment intended to protect identities of victims, covers the concealing of victims’ names.

“Basically, Marsy’s law is just broad enough as drafted to include any information that could be used to locate or harass the victim, or the victim’s family,” Webster said, adding people could use an officers’ name to look up other information like addresses.

PBA attorneys have also argued police officers should be afforded the protections of any civilian victim of a crime under Marsy’s Law.

Mike Caramanica, an attorney representing the news media, disagrees.

“In this case, we think officers are qualitatively different. And, while there is no express exemption for police officers in Marsy’s Law, you have to look at that provision and read it with some context and an understanding of society’s expectations of their right to observe and hold police accountable,” Caramanica argued before Second Judicial Circuit Judge Charles Dodson.

Dodson didn’t make a ruling Monday. He’s asked both sides to submit their proposed orders by end-of-day Friday.