FDLE Investigative Overview Concludes the Brevard Sheriff’s Office Gregory Edwards Death Investigation Was Thorough, Complete

By  //  July 18, 2020

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FDLE Special Agent Daniel Warren concluded that 'no further criminal investigation was needed'

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has completed their independent overview of Gregory Edward’s death investigation with a formal finding that the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office investigation was “thorough, complete and provided the relevant information needed to the Office of the State Attorney to render a decision.”

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has completed their independent overview of Gregory Edward’s death investigation with a formal finding that the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office investigation was “thorough, complete and provided the relevant information needed to the Office of the State Attorney to render a decision.”

FDLE Special Agent Daniel Warren concluded that “no further criminal investigation was needed.”

The review was conducted at the request of Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey and began on June 15, 2020.

The FDLE investigative process encompassed Warren reviewing the sheriff’s office investigative summary, the sheriff’s office internal review as well as all reports, enclosures and interviews from the sheriff’s office and the West Melbourne Police Department.

The review included all medical records from the Brevard County Jail, the Veteran’s Administration, Rockledge Regional Medical Center, along with the final autopsy report and toxicology results from the medical examiner’s office.

The review also consisted of more than 50 audiotaped interviews as well as numerous written statements that were collected during the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office investigation.

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The video recordings included the Walmart surveillance recordings of Edwards’ actions at the business, which included the attack and beating of a citizen collecting Christmas toys, and then violently resisting arrest by West Melbourne police officers and citizens, who attempted to assist the victims and officers.

Additional video recordings, including Edwards’arrest, transport and confinement at the county jail, were also reviewed.

As part of the overview, Warren viewed hours of video recordings captured from different camera angles.

Video footage included the Walmart parking area where the assault occurred, the West Melbourne Police Department arrest, transport to the county jail, and the booking and medical areas of the county jail.

These videos recorded activities from Edwards’ arrival at Walmart through his transport to the hospital. Additional videos reviewed included witness telephone recordings.

Warren’s report focuses on the use of force incident that started when BCSO Corporal Brian Otto removed Edwards from the holding cell to conduct the booking process.

Upon being removed from the cell, Edwards violently attacked Otto, striking him in the head with his left elbow. The two men fell to the floor at which time Edwards continued to strike Otto in the head several times with his left elbow and fist before putting Otto in a chokehold.

Corrections deputies then responded to free Otto and assist in bringing Edwards under control. Warren’s report listed all the actions of each deputy during the approximately five-minute incident.

Edwards was finally secured in a restraint chair with a “spit mask,” and according to Warren, Edwards did not appear to be injured. Edwards was then placed in a cell where he was periodically monitored.

After about 15 minutes, Edwards stopped moving and deputies entered the cell within 17 seconds to begin accessing his medical condition. Within three minutes, a nurse began a medical assessment finding him unresponsive, but with a pulse and breathing.

The deputies were then directed by the nurse to take Edwards to the medical ward. While in the medical ward, CPR was started and Edwards was transported to the hospital, where he later died.

Otto sustained head injuries and was transported to a local hospital where he was treated by medical personnel for a concussion and later released.

Four uninvolved witness inmates provided sworn recorded statements of their observations with one inmate describing that a corrections officer removing Edwards from the cell, was being polite to him when Edwards hit the officer in the head and they fell to the floor.

Other officers came to assist and tried to control Edwards, who the inmate described as fighting the officers like a “caged animal.”

The inmate said that the officers were trying to get control of Edwards’ arms, but he continued to fight and hold them under his body. Edwards was “tased,” which the inmate said had no effect and Edwards continued to fight and be “very aggressive.”

The officers were able to gain control and place Edwards in the restraint chair, who was screaming. According to the inmate, the officers were telling him to settle down and trying to get him to calm down, but Edwards did not listen to the requests and continued to yell. Edwards was then placed in the cell where he continued to yell and scream until he stopped moving.

In describing the investigation conducted by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Warren said that Sheriff’s agents interviewed more than 50 different witnesses where they showed no bias, were consistent and gathered the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Edwards.

Based on his review, Warren found that no additional interviews were necessary. The review also determined that no additional forensic testing was warranted.

The FDLE case review additionally summarized the findings of the Florida Medical Examiners Board Probable Cause Panel, which supported the determination made by Dr. Sajid Qaiser that Edwards’ death was due to Excited Delirium.

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Warren concluded that following his thorough review of all evidence collected and based on the interviews conducted that the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office presented all relevant information to the Office of the State Attorney to enable them to make a determination on the legality of the use of force by the corrections deputies during this incident.

Based on this review of the case and the thoroughness of the investigation undertaken by the sheriff’s office, no further criminal investigation into the death of Edwards was necessary.

“Although the death of Mr. Edwards extremely tragic, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Edwards family, the independent investigation by the Brevard County Medical Examiner determined the death was caused by Excited Delirium Syndrome, which was confirmed by the Florida Medical Examiners Panel,” said Ivey.

“FDLE has now concluded that the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office conducted a thorough and complete investigation.

“All of the respective independent conclusions were reached after comprehensive investigations and complete reviews of all information to include another trained forensic pathologist and by highly qualified members of the Medical Examiners’ Panel.

“The correctional deputies who attended to Mr. Edwards upon him going unresponsive were accompanied by a nurse, who was contracted by a third-party medical care provider. That nurse personally examined him and found him to have a pulse of 64, and a pulse oxygen level of 98 percent.

“These deputies were directed by the nurse to transport Mr. Edwards to the medical ward for further evaluation and medical care, which they did. All of the contracted medical staff involved voluntarily interviewed and provided sworn statements as to their respective involvement.

“The Office of the State Attorney then conducted an independent investigation and determined the use of force required to restrain the violent actions of Mr. Edwards was lawful and in accordance with Florida statutes.

“Finally, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted an independent investigative overview, concluding the investigation to be thorough and the findings provided to the State Attorney to be complete. In each of the independent investigations, the participants provided extreme effort and expertise to ensure a thorough and factual finding was presented for consideration,” said Ivey.

SEE THE FDLE INVESTIGATIVE OVERVIEW REPORT BELOW

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