MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Jesse Alan Terrell sat in Federal Court last week, waiting and wondering if he would be sent to prison in the beating of an unarmed black suspect, but an all-white jury decided he was not guilty. “It felt awesome,” Terrell said in a one-on-one interview with FOX 35.
It took less than two hours for the jury to find the former Marion County Deputy not guilty. "Great, relieved. I praise God for being with me,” Terrell said.
Terrell’s career I law enforcement all changed in August 2014. That’s when he responded to a call at an apartment complex in Ocala’s Marion Oaks. "A lot of things led up to that moment. The video captured about 30 seconds of what happened that day."
The surveillance video became the centerpiece of the case against Terrell. He is seen in the far left of the video, kneeling at the head and back of unarmed suspect, Derrek Price. Terrell, along with four other white Deputies are seen kicking and punching Price.
Prosecutors said Terrell hit Price 22 times in the head and neck area. In court, the prosecutor said the beating "defied common sense." FOX 35 asked Terrell what was going through his mind during the fight. "Life or death,” He said. "This could be the last time I ever see my family."
All of the deputies, except for Terrell, pleaded guilty to civil rights charges. Terrell decided to fight the charges. Terrell said, "I was justified in everything I did that day. I stood by that from day one. My story's never changed. What happened that day is fact. It's not fiction,” Terrell explained.
The fact that his fellow deputies testified against him brings out mixed emotions. "There's a couple of them that I really cared a lot for. Everybody had to make their own decisions that day. I will support them,” Terrell explained. “I still care a lot about one in particular. We'll always be friends for the rest of our live."
Terrell could’ve faced 10 years in prison. Now, he’s contemplating what happens next. "I'm not real sure. I'll pray about it,” He explained. “Take one day at a time. Wherever God takes me, is where I'll go."
Terrell tells FOX 35, he's not sure if he is going to go back into law enforcement.