By ELGIN JONES
FORT LAUDERDALE- The Democratic nominee for Broward County Sheriff says if elected he would reopen an investigation into the 2001 death of Oral Brown, a black businessman who died after being hog-tied by sheriff’s deputies and county paramedics. He is also calling on Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to re-open the investigation immediately.
“Clearly, I am not alleging wrongdoing on the part of anyone involved in the aforementioned investigations,” Broward Sheriff candidate Scott Israel wrote in his letter to Gov. Scott. “However, I strongly feel that a complete collection of documents and evidence must be gathered and reviewed by an independent body. Mr. Brown’s family is entitled to have a full, fair and impartial investigation of the actions which led to his death. Our community’s concern is finding the truth, and ensuring that justice prevails.”
Israel appeared along with local clergy and community leaders at a press conference held at the African American Research Library located west of Fort Lauderdale on Friday, Oct. 11. His request for the case to be reopened joins those already made by State Representative Hazelle Rogers, (D-Lauderdale Lakes), Rev. Dennis Grant, president of People for Equal Rights and Justice Inc. civil rights organization, and Walter “Mickey” Hinton, president of the Durrs Community Association and others.
Gov. Scott has yet to make a decision on those requests.
Israel is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Sheriff Al Lamberti in the November election and he is the first candidate to publicly express concern over the controversial case. He criticized his opponent for having a “lack of respect and compassion for justice, or Brown’s family.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office has not responded to questions about Israel’s call for a special prosecutor and Lamberti has yet to comment on the case.
Oral Brown, a Lauderdale Lakes businessman, was the victim of a single-vehicle, rollover accident while apparently having a seizure on Oct. 15, 2001. His SUV crashed through a fence and landed upside down in the parking lot of the Swap Shop Flea Market in Fort Lauderdale.
First responders that arrived on the scene of his accident said he was “combative” and they had to forcibly restrain him after he did not respond to their commands to sit down on a stretcher. They then hog-tied him and strapped him face-down to a gurney. They rendered no care to him while he was being transported to a hospital emergency room, where he arrived with no pulse and was not breathing.
He was pronounced dead a short time later.
An autopsy performed by the Broward Medical Examiner concluded his death was due to being hog-tied, where he suffocated from positional asphyxia, but said it was accidental. A Broward Sheriff’s Office homicide investigation reached the same conclusion, as did a grand jury empaneled to hear the case.
A series of South Florida Times investigative reports has since found numerous conflicts of interests between some individuals involved in those investigations and witness who say they were never contacted to provide statements or to testify before the grand jury.
Unsubstantiated information that was included in the Broward Sheriff’s Office homicide report has also been uncovered. The autopsy’s finding of petechial hemorrhaging, which could be a possible indication of strangulation, was not mentioned in the homicide report.
*Pictured above is Democratic Candidate for Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
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