By ELGIN JONES EJones@SFLTimes.com
FORT LAUDERDALE- Prosecutors with the Broward State Attorney’s Office will conduct a review of the testimony of some witnesses in the hog-tying death case of Oral Brown. The outcome will determine whether the 11-year-old homicide investigation into his death will be reopened.
A series of South Florida Times reports has found numerous unexplained irregularities in the investigation, including possible conflicts of interest. There are also key witnesses who were never contacted or informed of the investigation or testified during a grand jury proceeding into Brown’s death after he was beaten, hog-tied and strapped face down on a stretcher.
Now sworn statements given in an ongoing civil trial by eyewitnesses to the incident will be examined by prosecutor Anthony Loe, Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy said in an email to the South Florida Times.
Ishoy added, “Reopening this matter to conduct a criminal investigation is premature at this time.”
Among the witnesses whose testimony contradicts what emergency crews said took place are retired nurse Yvonne Mora and her daughter, Yvette
(Wakefield) DeLaTorre, now a Hollywood firefighter. They were traveling alongside Brown when, they said, they saw that he was in distress and called 911 as he crashed and his SUV rolled over. They dispute accounts by deputies and paramedics that Brown had been combative. During a deposition in a civil case filed by Brown’s family, they testified that emergency personnel beat Brown and placed him in a choke hold, then kicked his feet out from under him.
“They forcefully took him to the ground by kicking and beating him and then tied him up like an animal,” Mora has told South Florida Times.
“One had his arm around his neck then another one kicked his feet out from under him. They were pushing his face into the ground and had a knee in his back, while punching him.”
The Broward Sheriff Office homicide investigation report does not indicate that Brown was beaten but contains excerpts from deputies’ statements alleging Brown had been aggressive. Some of those statements indicate Brown was bruised and bloodied from the traffic accident, which Mora also disputes.
“I was there and saw what happened. I guess they manipulated the facts,” Mora said. “He was not a threat to anyone and he was not combative. I looked at him when we went to see if we could help. I didn’t see any bruises and there certainly wasn’t any blood.”
Mora and her daughter said they provided deputies at the scene with their names and contact information and insisted on giving statements about how Brown was brutally beaten and tied up. However, they said even though they were the ones who made the initial 911 calls about the accident, BSO investigators never contacted them. They followed up several days later with phone calls to the sheriff’s office and the hospital but still got no response.
They were unaware that a homicide investigation and grand jury proceedings had taken place until reading about them in South Florida Times.
Nova Southeastern University law professor Robert Jarvis and Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness are among those expressing concern and saying the case should be reopened.
The Rev. Dennis Grant, president of the Margate-based People For Equal Rights and Justice Inc. civil rights organization, is calling for the case to be reviewed by an independent entity.
When told of the state attorney office’s plans to review testimony from witnesses in the civil case, Grant said, “That’s not enough. This case must be reopened for a full investigation.”
Grant said he is finalizing plans to ask Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor in the case. "A man died and they have an obligation to conduct more than a review," Grant said.
*Pictured above is the late Oral Brown
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