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Ex-Marion deputy indicted in Tampa on civil rights charge after suspect's beating (w/video)

TAMPA — Suspect Derrick A. Price didn't spit, didn't kick, didn't threaten. He knelt and then lay on the pavement, hands outstretched, when arrested by sheriff's deputies in a community south of Ocala.

Then he was beaten.

"Stop resisting!" at least one deputy called out, as Price reacted to the blows.

Five ex-Marion County deputies now face possible prison terms. As they captured Price, video captured their conduct.

A federal grand jury in Tampa charged the last of the disgraced lawmen late Tuesday, accusing Jesse Alan Terrell, 33, of violating Price's civil rights.

Four of Terrell's former colleagues had already pleaded guilty to the crime after accepting plea agreements.

Price, 44, is black. The deputies are white.

Graphic video of the beating, which went on for at least 30 seconds, was made public for the first time Wednesday, prompting Price's attorneys to release a statement asking for calm.

"Mr. Price is satisfied with the efforts of the federal government to address the law enforcement conduct depicted on the video footage," Gainesville attorneys Michael Barbarette and Kevin Quirk said in the joint statement.

"Mr. Price and the members of his legal team urge everyone to use restraint and peacefully await the outcome of the federal proceedings involving the law enforcement officers."

Video showed what Marion Sheriff Chris Blair saw before suspending the deputies — without pay — four days after the Aug. 7, 2014, incident.

It captured deputies kneeing, kicking and pummeling a prostrate man, with no sign of resistance, while one sat on his legs. It showed a puddle of blood where his face had rested.

Some footage came from a deputy's body camera and some came from a surveillance camera on a nearby office building.

Price suffered facial abrasions, swelling and bruised ribs, but was not hospitalized, said Chief Assistant State Attorney Rick Ridgway of the Marion County State Attorney's Office.

That office, which released the video in compliance with public records laws, still has drug-trafficking and cocaine-possession charges pending against Price.

A SWAT team had been searching his home for drugs when he fled. Deputies located him after an hour in the community of Marion Oaks. The video shows him running and a police vehicle arriving, shortly before he went to his knees and raised his empty hands.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement database shows no prior arrests for Price.

The indictment alleges that deputy Terrell "repeatedly struck, kneed and kicked" Price in the head, neck and shoulder, causing bodily injury.

Ultimately fired by the Sheriff's Office, Terrell is scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court on Feb. 4.

Terrell's attorney, Charles Holloman, told the Ocala Star-Banner his client declined to meet with the grand jury but is negotiating with federal officials and looks forward to his day in court.

For the four others, the guilty pleas started arriving last summer to Ocala's federal courthouse, about 85 miles northeast of Tampa.

Terrell's indictment sprang from the Tampa federal courthouse because, unlike Ocala, the bay area has a federal grand jury that routinely meets to weigh the strength of federal cases and determine whether charges are merited. Plea agreements don't require grand juries.

Former deputies Cody Hoppel and Adam Ray Crawford admitted to beating Price, while two others, Trevor Wade Fitzgerald and James Louis Amidei, admitted they failed to intervene.

Crawford also admitted to obstruction of justice, and Hoppel admitted to punching another man and lying about it in an unrelated case.

The four acknowledged in court records that Price was not resisting arrest when beaten. Those deputies, who all resigned, are scheduled to be sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges in Ocala on April 20.

The civil rights charges against the five men stem from an American's constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizure, including unreasonable force. A violation is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case was initially investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement but taken over by the FBI.

It is being prosecuted by A. Lee Bentley III — U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, which includes the Tampa Bay area — and Mark Blumberg and Maura White of the Office of Civil Rights' criminal division.

It's unusual for the U.S. Attorney, who oversees a staff of more than 100 government lawyers in a 35-county region that stretches from Naples to Jacksonville, to personally prosecute cases. But Bentley, when confirmed by the Senate, said he planned to keep a foot in the courtroom and hinted that he might take on a civil rights case. That was four months after the Price beating.

Contact Patty Ryan at pryan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3382.

Ex-Marion deputy indicted in Tampa on civil rights charge after suspect's beating (w/video) 01/27/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2016 12:06pm]
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