Two months ago, two Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office deputies shot 48 times at a man who had fired his pistol at them. Two bullets hit and killed Englewood resident Bradley Rundle the evening of June 24.
The CCSO recently completed its investigation of the incident and determined the deputies were justified in firing lethal rounds at Rundle.
The findings, in our opinion, are solid — even though 48 shots seems excessive. The report states Rundle was a moving target and it was getting dark so it was difficult to bring him down. Rundle had threatened family members, took a shot at deputies and was intoxicated.
We believe the deputies did their job. They could be hailed as heroes. But, we can’t pat anyone on the back because Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell has used Marsy’s Law to shield their identities.
We’re not going to bash Prummell for his decision. His reasoning seems sincere and thought out. Even though he is one of the few law enforcement heads on the state to use this tactic to protect his officers, he is not the only one. The new law, an amendment to the state constitution that was approved by voters, is ambiguous. There are multiple interpretations being utilized by law enforcement bureaus throughout the state — seemingly at their own discretion.
The law is used in several other states too. Its intent was to protect victims of crime by not releasing their names or information such as an address that could lead to harassment or give someone charged in a crime against them, or that person’s accomplices, clues to find them.
In the Charlotte County case, Prummell says the deputies were shot at and therefore they are victims.
Here’s a few examples of how law enforcement is reacting to Marsy’s Law:
• On June 6, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey revealed deputy Paul Phillips engaged in a gunfight and was wounded but not before killing his assailant.
• On June 8, Clearwater officers were sent to a disturbance where a man was allegedly waving his gun at a crowd. Officers confronted a man who had a gun and when he reached for it on the ground, officers Justin Buis and Michael Diaz fired their weapons, killing the man.
• In Jacksonville, June 14, two men who robbed a Foot Locker store exchanged gunfire with police. One suspect was wounded and taken to the hospital. Officer K.L. Semones was the officer who fired the shots that took him down.
The list of officers whose names were revealed in shooting incidents is long. But, there are incidents where officers names were kept secret. In Tallahassee, the city police department is redacting every victim’s name from every report. But the Sheriff’s Office is not redacting names unless the victim requests it.
The president of the Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Association said Marsy’s Law is unprecedented.
“The public could be able to provide information, but if they don’t know who the victim is . . . it’s going to hinder law enforcement,” said Richard Greenberg.
The only path to take is for our state legislators to make fixing Marsy’s Law a priority when they return to Tallahassee in 2020. Make it clear who is a victim. Make a decision if law enforcement officers can be included, or if they are simply doing their job and being identified comes with the territory.
We must have a uniform policy on how to follow this new, complicated law.
An editorial from the Charlotte Sun.