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Public could get to see Gregory Edwards jail video next week

Florida Today suing sheriff’s office to release footage

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Next Friday, nearly two years after his death, the public is expected to get a chance to see for themselves what happened to U.S. combat veteran Gregory Edwards, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.

Edwards died Dec. 10, 2018, while in the custody of the sheriff’s office. After failing to get the video through public records requests, FLORIDA TODAY filed a lawsuit against the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in July seeking the video. The sheriff’s office again refused to release the video, citing security exemptions to the state’s public records law, saying that the safety of deputies and inmates at the jail was at stake.

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Trial was set for Oct. 27. The trial was rescheduled for Nov. 16 as both sides worked toward a settlement agreement. And though a tentative agreement was reached in late October allowing public access to the video, on Friday attorneys for Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey asked for more time before any release is official.

According to the previously agreed timeline, the video, with redactions to satisfy the sheriff’s security concerns, would have been released Wednesday, Nov. 11, or Veteran’s Day. Now it is scheduled for tentative release at noon two days later.

Attorney Laura Moody said the extra time is necessary for Ivey to personally inform the 22 current and former jail employees shown in the video that their faces will visible in order to afford those individuals time to object to releasing the video with their faces visible.

“We are not naive to the fact that this is coverage that is going to be in the newspaper and that there will be people in the community who will likely find fault and there may be threats and there may be issues,” Moody said. “I’m at a loss for why that’s unreasonable.”

Attorney Jessica Travis, representing FLORIDA TODAY, expressed frustration at the requested delay.

“Now we hear they need more time for objections on a timeline that was already agreed to and I have to question whether or not that was a realization, which was not orchestrated by anybody but maybe providence, that the date this video was scheduled to be released is Veteran’s Day,” she said. “Once I believe that was realized, we started to hear some discussion about how additional time was needed.”

But Moody said that delays in informing the employees in a more timely manner relate to a personal matter taking up the sheriff’s time.

Circuit Judge David Dugan encouraged both sides to compromise and promised he would hear and rule on any objections next Thursday and go ahead with authorizing a Friday release of the video barring any further impediments. Edwards was arrested Dec. 9, 2018 by West Melbourne police outside a retail store for allegedly assaulting a charity worker. His wife, Kathleen, told arresting officers her husband was a combat veteran suffering from a PTSD episode.

Edwards resisted being booked into the Brevard County Jail Complex in Sharpes, leading to an altercation with at least seven deputies. Edwards was punched, kneed, tased, pepper-sprayed and then strapped in a restraint chair with a spit hood over his head and pepper spray still on his face. Paramedics were called after deputies later found him unresponsive in his cell. He died the next day at a local hospital.