Army Veterans Death at Brevard County Jail

The death of Gregory Edwards, a US Army combat veteran with PTSD in the Brevard County jail has many upset and looking for answers. After reading the full article in the Florida Today newspaper, I was crying. (Read: A death in custody: Army veteran’s treatment in Brevard jail violated sheriff’s office policies)

As a retired veteran with PTSD and a man who was tortured and spent time in prison, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this could have been me. What stands out the most and should concern everyone is, why doesn’t the Brevard County Sheriff release the video they have of the altercation in the booking area? The Sheriff contends that everything was justified. If it is justified as the Sheriff says, why not just release the video and let people see what happened.

Trust in government, trust in law enforcement, trust in our institutions is what is at stake. Give the public the opportunity to make up their own minds and gain trust along the way. I can not think of a reason that is more powerful than the public trust to NOT release the video.

This was a perfect opportunity for the Sheriff to break down the “Us against Them” mentality some communities have with law enforcement. The Sheriff was given the opportunity to show the public that his department is transparent; why the Sheriff did the reverse is confusing to many. This incident smacks of a coverup when there might not be one.

The video wouldn’t explain why the jail staff didn’t follow their own policies, but at least the public would get an idea of why it took seven officers, pepper spray, six taser shots, and multiple blows to get one inmate under control.

Let the public see why a decorated army veteran lost his life for having a PTSD episode and was obviously NOT of sound mind. The public would still feel bad for Edwards, but they would also see and understand the difficulties the deputies had.

Edwards wife deserves no less. By not releasing the video, it’s a major red flag. Reports say that when Edwards got to the infirmary blood was coming out of his nose and feces were in the restraint chair.

I had flashbacks of when I watched an inmate die and saw the same thing. Feces were on the floor after he was picked up and put on a stretcher.

The article keeps coming back to policy. Why have a policy if you aren’t going to follow it? That is exactly what a policy is for, to give personnel direction when things go the way the policy was written for. For example, using Pepper Spray, a Taser or Stun-Gun. The policy says you are to receive immediate medical care because a person could die. If only the Sheriff’s deputies followed policy, this veteran might be alive.

This incident is why an outside agency should investigate any in-custody, or officer-involved death in any city, county or state. I think an outside agency would have waited for the full autopsy to include the toxicology report, they would have released the video and explained what policies were violated.

An independent report would give more credibility to the investigation and satisfy people who don’t trust the Sheriff’s department. The family deserves that as well.

What really happened in the booking area? That is what everyone wants to know. I listened to Sheriff Ivey on the Bill Mick show, if what he says is true, release the video.

The Sheriff said that the policy violations didn’t cause Edwards death. That might be true, but what we will never know is, if the policies WERE followed, would Edwards be alive today.

I was in the “hole”, abused in prison and have PTSD, I know the feelings Edwards had. Instead of the Sheriff justifying the death of a veteran with a mental illness, how about recognizing that the jail isn’t a mental facility and the outcome, in this case, could have been different.

We don’t know the whole story, or if anyone did anything wrong, but we do know that jails aren’t mental facilities and this man was baker acted, which tells us the responding officer thought this man had a mental illness.

When I go to the VA in Viera, everyone is talking about the death of Edwards at the Brevard County jail. “In God We Trust” is on vehicles at the Brevard County Sheriff’s department. Hebrews 13:3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

The Sheriff’s department announced a veteran program at the jail a week after Edwards death. A little late for this family, but just maybe the Sheriff realizes they could have done things differently and saved a veteran from dying.