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Yet Another Florida Brutality: Black, 60, Unarmed, and Shot 15 Times By Cops

| August 20, 2013

Take cover: Deputies of the Escambia County Sheriff's office posing in a photo posted July 19 on the sheriff's Facebook page. On Aug. 1, Alan Prill wrote below the picture: 'Another arrogant sheriff who should be stripped of his badge and made to fry his own donuts. You victimized a human being in his own driveway and you are such a stooge as to lament his lack of compliance? Perhaps you should lament the stupidity of your officers and ALL of you should go through the police academy again.'

Take cover: Deputies of the Escambia County Sheriff’s office posing in a photo posted July 19 on the sheriff’s Facebook page. On Aug. 1, Alan Prill wrote below the picture: ‘Another arrogant sheriff who should be stripped of his badge and made to fry his own donuts. You victimized a human being in his own driveway and you are such a stooge as to lament his lack of compliance? Perhaps you should lament the stupidity of your officers and ALL of you should go through the police academy again.’

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan has been defending the bizarre July 27 shooting of Roy Middleton by his deputies, which is currently being investigated by the state and has been the subject of protest by civil rights groups in the area.

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Middleton, an unarmed 60-year old black man, was looking for a cigarette in his mother’s car when deputies shot him 15 times. Morgan told reporters Middleton “refused to obey commands and lunged at the deputies who fired their weapons.” At the time he was thought to be a car thief, sheriff’s office officials have claimed. Middleton has since been recovering after two rounds hit his left leg and shattered it.

According to the Pensacola News Journal: “Morgan said that one major reason was that [Middleton], whom he referred to as a suspect and a victim, did not immediately comply with officers’ instructions to put up his hands as they approached. ‘If we rolled on the scene and Mr. Middleton had been compliant and Mr. Middleton had followed all directions of the law enforcement officers, I can give you with a 99.9 percent of assurance that this shooting would not have occurred,’ the sheriff said. ‘But when an individual, a suspect, or victim in this case, is not compliant, then the officers react to that.’

“Morgan’s statement contradicts what Middleton told the News Journal during an interview from his Baptist Hospital bed on Saturday. He’s recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg, was listed in good condition Monday and believes he may be released Wednesday. He said he had been rummaging in his mother’s car for a cigarette but backed out of the car with his hands raised when the deputies came upon him. He said they immediately opened fire when he turned to face them. ‘It was like a firing squad,’ he said. ‘Bullets were flying everywhere.’”

This isn’t the only incident, as of late, that Morgan has had to smooth over, either.

Just a week or so after the Middleton shooting, deputies “climbed through the window of a Warrington couple’s home in search of a suspect, despite having no search warrant, and shot two dogs, one of which died,” the News Journal reported on August 6:

“Cristina Moses, 32, and her fiance, Travis Nicholas, 22, on Tuesday recounted what they said was a horrific scene that included one of about a half-dozen deputies shooting the dogs in the couple’s bedroom after awakening the couple at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday and dragging them to the hallway. Moses’ 13-month-old blue pit bull, Gracie, was euthanized early Monday because of the gunshots, Moses said. Her other dog, a 3-year-old bulldog mix named Rocky, was shot in the leg but is recovering at the couple’s home. …The Sheriff’s Office provided limited information and said an investigation is continuing. A sheriff’s news release stated that deputies believed that a suspect in an armed disturbance earlier in the evening on the couple’s street, Flynn Drive near Corry Station, frequented the home where Moses and Nicholas lived.”

While it isn’t surprising that either of these two incidents has spurred a lot of controversy, Morgan’s defense of the Middleton shooting, in particular, has been pretty interesting.

The News Journal reported that Morgan said in a speech last week at a Rotary Club of Pensacola meeting that his department was “hobbled by the law” and could not probably defend itself.


Because the case is currently being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the sheriff cannot say too much about the shooting. Morgan said, “I cannot sit with the media and give you specific details … No one is more frustrated with that than me,” the News Journal reported.

According to the News Journal: “The sheriff said the purpose of his speech [that day] was to address the apparent “lack of race relations” in the county. ‘The dialogue needs to begin, again, based on statistical data and the truth,’ he said.

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate commented recently that the Rotary Club speech was “a case study in grievance- and blame-shifting.”

“The video,” Lithwick wrote, “includes a horribly painful opening joke referring to the recent police actions and the attention they garnered as ‘turds’ he was being forced to swallow. Your call whether the humor is rankly offensive, mildly inappropriate, or fair game. But the meat of the speech appears to be an attempt to recalibrate the media outrage generated by armed officers shooting at an unarmed black man 15 times, into media outrage that is somehow both race-blind, and targeted at black offenders. The substance of Morgan’s argument is that the community must ‘address statistics for what they are and not inject race.’ Then he proceeds to inject race. And then he does it again.”

Lithwick closed her article by opining that “what bothers [Morgan] is that Americans are still capable of outrage when innocent people are brutalized in their homes by his police officers. What should bother the rest of us is that he is not.”

Both the Middleton case and the Warrington couple’s case are both being investigated by state officials.

Ashley Lopez, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

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24 Responses for “Yet Another Florida Brutality: Black, 60, Unarmed, and Shot 15 Times By Cops”

  1. Witchy Mamma says:

    The Sheriff of this county; this “Morgan”, needs to be fired and right quick. The officers involved in both of these instances need to be stripped of their badges. Both of these situations are beyond reprehensible. They are blatantly disregarding and misusing the law. They have no respect for the law, the positions they hold or the people they have sworn to protect.

    • REALIST NOT A RACIST says:

      Why does society only make a big deal about blacks getting killed and everyone ignores the shit that happens to white people?!

  2. Gia says:

    Polices did absolutely nothing wrong.

  3. Shocked, I tell you... says:

    Sorry, folks, but the police must be accountable, too. This is the problem with warrantless searches. You can’t just bust into someone’s home and kill all their animals. Oops! Wrong house!

    Somebody in CA was shot to death last week because he wouldn’t “spread em”. Ever heard of a taser?

    If the police are not getting respect, it is because they are not earning respect. And they need to be held accountable for things like this. And apparently they need much better training. It is NOT better to shoot first and then ask questions later.

  4. karma says:

    Wonder when we will see a story about the school bus beating that took place in Gulfport FL. The 13 year old child does exactly what he is told to do about drugs and gets the hell beat out of him by three 15 yr olds.

    • Truth Seeker says:

      Karma I agree with you 100% Where is Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson when this 13 year old white kid was beat up by 3 black kids? (they’re claiming it WASN’T a racially motivated crime) If it was the other way around and 3 WHITE 15 year olds beat up a BLACK 13 year old you can bet your life on the fact that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would have jumped on board on that case and MADE it a racially motivated crime!!!

  5. Jim Neuenfeldt says:

    So which is it…..”deputies shot him 15 times” or “has since been recovering after two rounds hit his left leg and shattered it”…….

    Hmm 2 live rounds and 13 blanks?
    or 2 hits out of 15 shots fired?

    Either way it is a bad situation, however who ever wrote the story is severely lacking in the details of the case.
    From CBS News “confronted by sheriff’s deputies responding to a burglary call. A neighbor had called 911 after they saw him reaching into the car” Now lets get this straight and use a little common sense. Someone called and reported a burglary in progress. After the report the officers responded and upon their arrival saw Mr. Middleton still in the car and ordered him out with his hands up.

    Then the gun play started? I suspect there is a lot more to this story.
    A reporter has a moral obligation to forward or record the FACTS of a story, or if giving an OPINION then make it clear that it is an OPINION. Either of those choices is fine, however lets try not to mix the NEWS with OPINION okay?

    When you get the real FACTS…..Come back and lay it out so we know what is really going on.
    From what is written so far……The Escambia County Sheriff needs to spend a lot more money on firearms training and target practice.

  6. A.S.F. says:

    Just wait until one of these fine upstanding and tolerant police officers mistakenly shoots a white kid or adult who happens to be wearing a hoodie or something that obscures the fact that they are white. THEN, you will see a proper investigation. Until then, it will be just “oopsies, sorry” and everything else will be the fault of those bleeding heart liberals and “race-baiters” trying to smear THEM (as they discharge their weapons into anything that moves.) What would their excuse have been if this 60 year old man happened to be deaf or hard of hearing (as some people of that age are ) and he didn’t turn around immediately at their command? They climb through a window of a house they don’t have a proper warrant to go into and start shooting and THAT’S O.K.??? These officers are obviously a reflection of the poor training and example their superiors are setting for them. I hope something is done about this situation very soon. Until (and unless) it is, be afraid, citizens of Escambia County, be very afraid!

  7. 2sides says:

    I guess no one had a tazer….

  8. Ayn Rand's Spleen says:

    The lesson here is that when you are in a situation with one or more police officers, you should act as though they are violent paranoid schizophrenics. Do what you can to reasonably protect yourself, knowing that there is always the possibility that even if you are polite and follow the officer’s directions you still may be shot to death. Always speak clearly, and make sure that you are not threatening in any way. If you have a dog, make sure that it is locked up and away from the police officer because it might be shot for “lunging” even if it is a teacup poodle.

  9. Freddy says:

    It’s amazing that people come to conclusions without knowing the whole story except what is printed in sometimes bias news media. If FDLE is handling the investigation why don’t we let them complete their investigation before making biased condemnation of law enforcement officers.

  10. Outsider says:

    Let’s all rush to judgement before we have all the facts. Remember “I don’t have all the facts, but I believe the police acted stupidly?”

  11. Truth Seeker says:

    This incident HORRIFIES me!! It seems to me that if you are employed in the law enforcement field, that basically “Anything goes.” Meaning that the officer/officers use their own personal judgment for their reactions to each incident instead of following the letter of the law that they are sworn to uphold. Then when media gets a hold of it the officer is protected by their union and the their fellow officers, we (the public) rarely get the actual truth of what happened. It happens a lot more than the general public knows of. We (the public) just hear about the few cases that are so egregious that they make the news. I know this to be true because I personally was married to a Police Officer in California for 18 years and heard first hand of many stories similar to this. We (the public) are supposed to be protected by these officers and in many cases we end up being victims of a crime perpetrated by these same officers that were sworn to uphold the law and protect us! Like I said, “I Am HORRIFIED!”

  12. Molan Labe says:

    You kill any of my pets when you break into MY CASTLE..I’m going to open the gates of HELL on you little boys in BLUE. You nazi’s lost my respect when you went tactical and forgot your code of “PROTECT & SERVE”…Don’t bother commenting..I don’t give a rats backside what you losers have to say…..Just don’t be surprised one day when you enter the “wrong house”……Live by the GUN…DIE by the GUN !!! I’ve made my peace and BEEN ready to leave this shit hole of a world.I can go by myself or I can take as many as 30 nazi’s with me…….MOLAN LABE

  13. elaygee says:

    If they gave a psychological panel of tests on police and deputies, they’d find a huge number of deeply disturbed people who should not even be allowed to own a gun, never mind a badge.

    • Truth Seeker says:

      They do a “Psychological Stress Test (exam) on the prospective officers when they fill out the application prior to becoming a police officer. Different states do it differently. My ex-husband had a psychological exam prior to being hired. (and passed) But after years in the department, he had changed. I am sure if they did a psychological exam after a few years of being a law enforcement officer, MANY police officers would NOT pass that exam! (or they would know how to respond to falsely pass it) Actually the “Psychological Stress Test” that my ex-husband was given prior to being hired on the Police Department, was years later no longer used n the hiring process because (someone who didn’t pass the test sued the city) and it was deemed to be unfair to “Stress Test” a civilian that was not trained in law enforcement to react as a Law Enforcement Officer should resulting in that civilian not being hired and trained in their police academy. (This was in California-I was married to my ex-husband for 18 yrs) I think they SHOULD psychologically test these officers through out their careers and give additional training when deemed necessary!

  14. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    This is not necessarily a race issue, this is just the latest example that the “Officer Safety” pendulum has swung way to far. Sure, Officer’s need to be able to perform their jobs safely, but we’re at the point now where if you don’t instantly comply with a screaming officer’s command, which you may or may not understand, they feel justified in either shooting you, or tazering you. We’re to the point where Police Officers are infallible so long as they claim “officer safety”… They can stop you on the street and frisk you for no reason other than “officer safety”, even if its in direct violation of the 4th amendment. Look at the LAPD in the Dorner case, they were looking for a big musclar black man in a gray Nissan Titan and instead fire 100+ rounds into the cab of a blue toyota tacoma with two ladies just out delivering news papers whose combined wouldn’t have equaled Dorner’s, and their justification was that it looked like Dorners truck and was pulling up to a house they were guarding so they felt their safety was in jeapordy. Bullet holes were found all over the street, in other parked cars, in trees, and the result? $4.2 million settlement (tax dollars) with the ladies, and “retraining” of the officers involved. It’s to the point now if an officer puts his hand on your shoulder and you turn ever so slightly you’re going to be charged with “resisting arrest”.

    The pendulum has to swing back the other way. Officer Safety cannot trump everyone else’s constitutional rights.

  15. Dan says:

    They believed someone in the house was in an armed robbery earlier that day that doesn’t give police a right to enter a house without a warrant if that happend to me they would all be shot

  16. wow... says:

    this is just wrong…

    • truth monitor says:

      cops don’t use the stand your ground law. If you make a gesture that they don’t like, can’t lay on the ground quick enough your going to be full holes. cops don’t need a real excuse for shooting you dead they have the discretion to murder under the pretext of he didn’t comply or he made a sudden gesture.
      What is funny is to see these cops all have two or more stripes. Life must be good when you buddies cover for you. None of the cops involved will pay for their bloodlust. They will most likely fabricate a story
      to fit their shooting of a man who didn’t have a weapon. If the cops have so much rank posing in a hanger who is protecting the citizen’s? The city could use this photo to get rid of the deadwood on the payroll. Are these cops on the time clock?????

  17. Mike says:

    I see a lot of overweight police officers out there these days, a PE test used to be part of the fit for duty compliance. There need to still be physical requirements for the this job, two officers should have been able to take him down by hand or tase him.

  18. Me says:

    Just so all yall that know every single law out there and are given legal degrees when you read an article. Police DO NOT need a warrant to enter a house if they are in fresh pursuit of an offender, they see someone inside that has a felony warrant/just committed a felony or if they feel that someone’s life is in danger inside the house. Just saying.

    • George Price says:

      What happened to the “use of Deadly Force” guidelines that all law enforcement Officers are supposed” to follow. As a retired Officer and ex-Chief of Police I find it highly questionable when you read these cases in the news.
      I taught the subject matter in the Down State Police Academy in Illinois for about fifteen years.

      The use of “deadly force” has been carefully studied and rules adopted that are “supposed” to be in force and followed by ALL DEPARTMENTS/Personnel” throught out the Nation.

      I know that things have changed somewhat since I retired,, but I have not seen, heard, or read where the
      ground rules have been changed or altered for the use of “deadly force”. However, remember, we do not have all the facts in the matter, so use discretion
      Chief, Ret’d

  19. truth monitor says:

    cops don’t use the stand your ground law. If you make a gesture that they don’t like, can’t lay on the ground quick enough your going to be full holes. cops don’t need a real excuse for shooting you dead they have the discretion to murder under the pretext of he didn’t comply or he made a sudden gesture.
    What is funny is to see these cops all have two or more stripes. Life must be good when you buddies cover for you. None of the cops involved will pay for their bloodlust. They will most likely fabricate a story
    to fit their shooting of a man who didn’t have a weapon. If the cops have so much rank posing in a hanger who is protecting the citizen’s? The city could use this photo to get rid of the deadwood on the payroll. Are these cops on the time clock?????

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