Florida ex-sheriff's deputy acquitted in excessive force case

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 09, 2016 3:21 PM

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida jury acquitted a former sheriff's deputy on Friday of a civil rights charge stemming from a 2014 arrest in which five officers were accused of beating a black man during an arrest, local media reported.

Former Marion County sheriff's deputy Jesse Terrell, 33, was charged with depriving the man of his civil rights by repeatedly striking, kicking and kneeing him. The other officers had previously pleaded guilty, court records show.

An all-white jury deliberated for less than two hours, the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper reported, noting that the officers involved were also white. Terrell's defense argued that they were dealing with a potentially violent suspect, it reported.

The decision comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of the use of force by U.S. law enforcement, particularly against minorities. Terrell had faced up to 10 years in prison.

The victim was left bloodied in a parking lot where he was apprehended, after fleeing when authorities initially came to execute a drug-related arrest warrant. A video recording showed that he had raised his hands in the air, and he was lying facedown on the concrete, before any officers reached him.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein, Editing by Franklin Paul)