/  09.05.2020

Indictments against the Tallahassee police officers involved in the fatal shootings of three Black men, Tony McDade, Mychael Johnson and Wilbon Woodard, have been declined by a grand jury in Leon County, ABC reports.

Jurors found that the officers were justified in their use of lethal force in the three separate shooting deaths. The highly-publicized police killings essentially sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the state.

Following the announcement, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey called for a review of the Tallahassee Police Department’s use of deadly force policy. He also shared plans for the department to add a mental health element.

The evidence in each case, which includes the footage from dash cams and body cameras, is now available to the public and can be accessed on the city’s official website.

The officer who fatally shot McDade, 38, in May, however, did not have his body camera turned on — a clear policy violation. As a result, there are differing accounts on what happened during McDade’s confrontation with the police following the reported murder of a 21-year-old.

Woodard, 69, was shot and killed by officers in a restaurant parking lot earlier in May. Police say Woodard was armed.

Johnson, 31, lost his life in March after a Tallahassee police officer told him “I’m going to kill you,” before fatally shooting him in the head during an alleged car theft.

Attorney Mutaqee Akbar, who is representing the McDade and Johnson families, thinks the city can do a better job at handling people with mental health issues and use of force.

“Now that we have the answers, we can move in a direction of healing for the families,” Akbar told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I do think there’s a problem with policing when individuals can rely on law enforcement to help them commit suicide. And I think we need to take a different look at policing and the use of force.”

Florida Police Benevolent Association attorney Stephanie Dobson Webster expressed gratitude for the grand jury’s finding.

“We are aware of the many issues facing law enforcement and the minority communities in this country, but it is our hope that we can begin to heal together,” he said in a statement. “It must start somewhere, so we urge all community leaders, to join together to promote conversation and tolerance for all.”

The grand jury has recommended that the police department conduct fresh officer training on commands. They also asked that city cops get additional training on handling suspects that attempt to flee.


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