Last month, the end of a debate between 4th Circuit Public Defender Matt Shirk and State Attorney Angela Corey got ugly.
Shirk brought up a stunning video: that of an inmate, DeAndre Ezell, getting knocked unconscious by an officer while being questioned in the Duval County jail.
Ezell was charged in November 2014 for non-violently resisting arrest and, after standing up for whatever reason when being asked questions by an officer at the Duval County jail intake facility, had his head smashed into a concrete wall by an interrogating officer.
Shirk wanted to know why Corey didn’t press charges against the officer.
“I want to know why your office continues to protect Correctional Officer David Stevens,” Shirk said, “refusing to prosecute this officer for blatant crimes.”
Corey said she wasn’t prepared to discuss the case at the debate, and then called a press conference later, to which this outlet was not invited.
However, her point came through in a Florida Times-Union article. Corey contended Shirk had not brought the case up previously.
“Matt Shirk has had 16 months, 72 weeks, 505 days, 12,000-plus hours and 43 million seconds if you want to talk about the amount of time Matt Shirk has had to bring what he considers to be such an important case to my attention,” Corey said. “Not once has he come to this building, made a phone call, sent an email, nor has he had any of his underlings request the same review.”
Shirk asserts he had, in fact, brought the case to Corey’s attention.
“As the Public Defender for Nassau, Duval and Clay counties it is my job to protect our clients’ constitutional rights and see that justice is served on a daily basis. This is why I continue to fight for DeAndre Ezell who was brutally assaulted by a Jacksonville corrections officer while handcuffed. The video that we have all seen speaks for itself and the fact that Angela Corey refuses to prosecute this obvious criminal act is reflective of Ms. Corey’s selective definition of justice,” Shirk asserted in a written statement.
Shirk goes on to undermine Corey’s veracity.
“For Ms. Corey to claim that her office had not seen this video until the other week is false. These documents prove that her office was provided with not one BUT TWO copies of this video within a month of the incident taking place. Assistant Public Defender Josh Beard provided a copy of this video to the Assistant State Attorney assigned to this case, Jason Kelly. Upon seeing the video Assistant State Attorney Kelly informed his superiors and the case was reassigned to Richard Mantei and the State Attorney’s integrity unit,” Shirk continued.
“In addition to our office providing a copy of the video to the state attorney, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office provided a copy of the video pursuant to their office policy as outlined in these documents,” Shirk added, saying the JSO “did the right thing” and the officer is no longer part of the force.
Shirk asserts Angela Corey “holds the responsibility to prosecute this officer for this crime and it is she who not only refuses to do so, but went on television and lied to the citizens she serves. I call on Ms. Corey to apologize to her constituents for this violation of public trust and to finally bring charges against this corrections officer.”
The State Attorney’s office disagrees with Shirk’s take.
Spokeswoman Jackelyn Barnard asserts Shirk is attempting to deflect from his own issues and “misinform” the public with this latest ploy.
Barnard noted Mantei reviewed the video, and there was “no criminal act in the video by the officer then, and there is no criminal act in the video by the officer now.”
Corey, said Barnard, had not seen the video, as it was “not brought to us as an integrity case.”
“The office was aware,” said Barnard, but the video “was not brought to her [personal] attention.”
The video was handled “by the appropriate people,” Barnard added.