OCALA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - After spending nearly 2 years in jail, 33-year-old Johnny Ostane could be a free man as soon as Wednesday tonight.
A viral video, showing several Marion County Sheriff’s deputies kicking and punching Derrick Price in August 2014, had a hand in Ostane’s exoneration.
After that video, the State Attorney’s Office told Fox 35’s David Williams, it launched a case integrity team to comb through cases looking for possible excessive force and false reports. They found Ostane’s case after he filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s Office against Deputy Eduardo Bustamante stemming from Ostane’s 2013 arrest, according to the State Attorney’s Office.
Chief Assistant State Attorney, Rick Ridgeway, told Fox 35’s David Williams, the S.A.O began asking questions after they saw a lump on Ostane’s head in his 2013 booking photo.
Melanie Kohler, Johnny Ostane’s Attorney told Fox 35, "Officer Bustamante came upon him with his battalion stick and just started beating him in the back of his head. He had some very severe injuries to the back of his head”
A Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told Fox 35 Bustamante resigned from the department.
Chief Assistant State Attorney, Rick Ridgeway says based on the S.A.O’s findings at the Judicial Center, a judge ordered Ostane be released.
“I’m very thankful he followed through, filed a complaint," Kohler said. "I’m so thankful they reopened this, because, he was, yesterday, vindicated and exonerated on these bogus charges.”
Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair gave Fox 35 this statement:
“I am very disappointed that Johnny Ostane will be released back into our community. Our community is less safe than it was yesterday. Mr. Ostane openly admitted to punching a law enforcement officer and pled guilty to Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer and Driving While License Suspended and/or Revoked. In my experience, an individual who will attack a uniformed law enforcement officer is someone who poses a serious danger to the general public. Mr. Ostane waited 15 months before filing any complaint with our agency. We completed an entire investigation into the incident, where Mr. Ostane’s allegations were found to be unsubstantiated. Additionally, the statements attributed to Mr. Ostane in the Ocala Star Banner article conflict with the statements of his very own private attorney. The emotions that we are all feeling at this agency today are that of disbelief and heartache. We can only hope that Ostane’s release doesn’t come with irreparable consequences.”