Pinellas Sheriff backs releasing names of Tallahassee officers who used deadly force

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri((Source: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office))
Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 12:51 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The sheriff of one of Florida’s most populous counties is backing the City of Tallahassee in its legal battle to release the names of police officers who use deadly force.

“As public safety professionals, law enforcement officers who use force to carry out their public duties must be accountable to the public they serve,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri wrote in an amicus curiae brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“A lack of transparency breeds distrust,” the brief says.“The public should know the identity of a police officer who uses force under color of law.”

The Florida Supreme Court is set to hear a case brought by the Police Benevolent Association against the City of Tallahassee. The PBA sued to block the release of the names of three officers involved in shootings in the summer of 2020. The PBA argues the officers’ identities should be protected under Marsy’s Law, because they were victims of a crime.

A Leon County judge sided with the City, but the Appeals Court ruled in favor of the PBA.

Sheriff Gualtieri’s brief argues officers who use deadly force cannot be considered victims under Marsy’s law.

“One who uses force stands in the position of the ‘accused’ (the person who committed a potentially criminal act), not the ‘victim’ (the person who suffered a direct physical harm),” the brief says.

The case is the first to wrestle with the question of Marsy’s Law protections for officers who use deadly force. It could set a precedent for other similar cases across Florida.

As Sheriff of Pinellas County, Gualtieri leads a staff of more than 1,500 deputies, covering a county of nearly a million people, including the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

You can read the sheriff’s amicus brief at this link or below:

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