Broward County Florida Sheriff Rejects Independent Reviews of Detainee’s Death
Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) has refused overtures to allow an independent investigation into the death of a pretrial detainee.
Kevin Desir, 43, lost consciousness during a January 17, 2021, confrontation with guards at the Broward County Jail (BCJ). He died ten days later. Desir was in jail on charges of marijuana possession and criminal mischief.
It was known that Desir had a history of mental health issues, including bi-polar disorder. The Sun Sentinel reported that the confrontation occurred while Desir was having “an apparent mental health episode” at BCJ. Public Defender Gordon Weekes has been critical about how BSO handles detainees with mental health issues.
No further details of the confrontation, which was captured on video, have been made public. A private doctor and members of Desir’s family have been allowed to view the video of the encounter. They are under a strict gag order to not release any details of what the video contains.
Desir’s autopsy report lists the cause and manner of death as “undetermined.” His family and attorneys are waiting for the Broward Medical Examiner’s office to provide complete information for their expert to review.
In February 2021, Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor sent a letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to request the investigation of Desir’s death. The FDLE, however, said it could not insert itself into the investigation without an invitation from BSO. “We don’t have jurisdiction to just take over someone else’s investigation,” said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony made clear in a response letter to Pryor that his office would handle the investigation. “Your request is based upon an unsupported opinion that such actions [an FDLE investigation] would ‘eliminate any potential appearance of impropriety,’” Tony wrote. “I have zero tolerance for employee misconduct, and I have an unwavering commitment to accountability and transparency.”
Jeremy McLymont, an attorney for Desir’s family, said of the autopsy report in June 2021, “It answers no questions. It’s almost five months later, and they still don’t want to explain why a nonviolent offender is dead.” As of press time, the investigation into Desir’s death remains in limbo and no litigation has been filed.
Source: Sun Sentinel