Group of Brevard lawyers want Sheriff Ivey to release video after man dies in custody

The incident that got Greg Edwards in trouble happened at a West Melbourne Walmart. He was taken into custody and died.  Now there are about 50 new voices -- all lawyer with new legal arguments -- calling for jail video to be released.

As the fallout from the George Floyd case continues across America, in Brevard County, a group of criminal defense attorneys is calling for transparency and reforms in law enforcement. 

A letter, sent by the area chapter of Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL), has many suggestions for change. The FACDL is calling for the public see the video that could answer what happened to Edwards inside the county jail.

"We’re imploring the Brevard County Sheriffs Office to release that tape," said Margaret Wagner.

Wagner said there is no reason to withhold the footage. She said the explanation Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey is giving is not accurate and should not be accepted by the community.

During a news conference, the sheriff said, "The moment I release it, I give up all of the security features that are in my jail."

Wagner disagrees.

"We’ve had numerous cases of battery on a detainee, battery from one inmate to another inmate, or battery on a law enforcement officer and in the regular course of discovery, we get video tapes from inside the jail- from all over the jail," Wagner said.

The widow of Edwards, Kathleen, said he had a medical episode stemming from PTSD from his combat tours in the Army, and that's why he became aggressive at the Walmart in December of 2018. 

The Sheriff's Office said Edwards climbed into a truck full of Christmas donations, attacked a man, then fought with responding officers.  Later at the jail, the Sheriff's Office said he was lashing out, so deputies used pepper spray and a Taser to subdue him.  He died at an area hospital the next day.

"We need to prevent this from happening again.  There are a lot of veterans of all nationalities fighting the effects of war on a constant basis," Wagner said.

"We need to prevent this from happening again, there are a lot of veterans of all nationalities fighting the effects of war on a constant basis," said Kathleen Edwards at a rally last week.

The State Attorney and Florida‘s Department of Law Enforcement said the case is closed, and there are no grounds for criminal charges against the deputies involved.

According to Wagner, since there is nothing to prosecute, releasing the tape couldn’t hurt the Sheriff's Office, but it could help restore trust. 

"There has been this momentum, there has been a spotlight on some problems that we have nationally...and here locally." Wagner said.

Beyond the tape, the group wants body cams on sheriff's deputies and it looks like that might happen. Two county commissioners tell FOX 35 News they are exploring options and the commission could direct Sheriff Ivey to implement that.