Tallahassee Democrat by Jeff Burlew
July 14, 2020
Lawyers for the city of Tallahassee and a group of media outlets argued Marsy’s Law and its guarantee of privacy for crime victims doesn’t apply to the police officer who shot and killed Tony McDade.
Their comments in the high-profile case came during a telephonic hearing Monday in Leon Circuit Court in a lawsuit brought by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, which is representing the officer and another at the scene.
Back story: City of Tallahassee denies it changed stance on Marsy’s Law in Tony McDade case
The police union is trying to block the city from releasing the names of the officers under the assertion they’re covered by Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment approved in 2018 that granted new rights, including confidentiality, to victims of crime.
But attorneys for the city and media organizations including the Tallahassee Democrat argued the amendment does not apply to police officers who are carrying out their official duties. They said ruling otherwise would prevent the public from holding police accountable.
“What we’re talking about here is the oversight of the police actions in using deadly force,” said Mark Caramanica, a lawyer representing the news outlets. “Marsy’s Law is not a mechanism to secret that information away and stifle public debate.”
The court battle stems from the May 27 shooting of McDade, a black transgender man believed to have fatally stabbed a next-door neighbor’s son, Malik Jackson, before fleeing to apartments on Holton Street. McDade was shot and killed after allegedly pointing a gun at an officer with the Tallahassee Police Department.