Jury finds Othal Wallace guilty of manslaughter in shooting death of Daytona Beach police officer

Sentencing to take place within 60 days, judge says

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – After jurors did not reach a verdict Friday in the murder trial of a man accused of fatally shooting a Daytona Beach police officer in 2021, deliberations continued Saturday morning until one was reached.

The jury found Othal Wallace guilty of manslaughter with a firearm in the shooting death of Daytona Beach police Officer Jason Raynor.

Wallace faced the death penalty if he were to be convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Raynor, who was shot in June 2021 while investigating a suspicious vehicle.

Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano said he would order a presentence investigation, with said sentencing to take place within 60 days. Until then, Wallace was placed back in custody.

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Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood in a social media thread Saturday afternoon lambasted the decision, stating Raynor’s life didn’t seem to matter to the jury and describing the verdict as akin to “open season on law enforcement.”

The jurors deliberated until 10 p.m. Friday, returning to the Clay County courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

The defense opened Saturday by asking Zambrano for permission to give the jury more information following Friday’s questions. The prosecution said that the court had adequately answered such questions already, adding the defense hadn’t revealed what they intended to show the jurors.

Judge Zambrano said he would take further arguments into consideration if the jury had more questions, but not until then. A recess was then called and maintained until jurors knocked, prepared with the verdict.

Watch the verdict reading again in the media player below:

During day one of the deliberations Friday, the jury had several questions regarding legal detainment, concealed carry and whether it is lawful for an officer to physically restrain a citizen as a form of detainment.

Closing arguments wrapped Thursday after another day of testimony, including Wallace, who took the stand and was the defense’s only witness.

Prosecutors said that on June 23, 2021, Raynor was acting lawfully when trying to question Wallace. The defense argued that the interaction ended with Wallace shooting Raynor in self-defense.

The jury — comprised of nine women and six men — received instructions for deliberations on Friday morning.

Wallace’s trial took place in Clay County after his defense team argued it would be difficult to find an impartial jury in Volusia County because of how much coverage the case had received.

Raynor, who had been with the Daytona Beach Police Department for about three years, was rushed to Halifax Health in grave condition after he was shot in the head. He had remained in critical condition following surgery until officials said on Aug. 17, 2021, that he died as the result of his injuries. Raynor was laid to rest on Aug. 23, 2021, in a tribute that took place across Volusia County.

Daytona Beach police honor fallen officer Jason Raynor

Wallace was arrested in a multi-state manhunt 56 hours after the shooting.

Chief Jakari Young said Wallace was hiding in a tree house on property in Georgia affiliated with a Black nationalist paramilitary organization.

On Saturday, Young released a statement on the verdict, saying in part, “It is difficult to come to terms with a verdict that is not commensurate with the despicable crime that was committed or the loss that we and Jason’s loved ones have endured. Jason was a young man with a full life ahead of him and his life was senselessly cut short. There is no verdict that would bring Jason back or change how his life ended, but a verdict that brought justice to his surviving family would have offered some semblance of solace.”

Read Young’s entire statement below:

With his manslaughter conviction, Wallace’s attorney said the judge could sentence the 31-year-old to up to 30 years in prison.

“He was obviously relieved that it was not a first-degree murder conviction,” Tim Pribisco said. “We still have a sentencing hearing that we need to prepare for. We’re going to prepare and fight just as hard as we did in this entire case,” the defense attorney said.

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About the Authors:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.