DOJ to join Ft. Pierce officer-involved case

Posted at 11:30 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-20 23:14:34-04

UPDATE: The United States Department of Justice will join the investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting of 21-year-old Demarcus Semer. 


Two big developments Wednesday night in the Fort Pierce officer involved shooting case.  The police chief released the names of the officers who fired their weapons and the City Commission is now asking the Department of Justice to get involved.

The video is dramatic. Ft. Pierce Police Officer Keith Holmes jumping into the water to save five girls trapped on the jetty back in 2014.

Now we’ve learned Holmes was one of two officers who fired their weapons the night 21-year-old Demarcus Semer was killed.

Holmes is a 12 year veteran of the force.  The 42 year-old is assigned to the Community Policing Bureau.  The other officer involved is Sgt. Brian MacNaught.  He’s also a 12 year veteran, and was named Manager of the Year in 2014.

Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney said she contacted the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office to let them know she was releasing the officers names.
She said this was a tough decision, but the right decision.

“It was very important to show that we are completely transparent.  We believe in the voice of the people.  That’s who we work for," said Chief Hobley-Burney.

After a week of protests, city commissioners also reversed course Wednesday and agreed to send a letter to the Department of Justice asking them to take over the investigation.  Commissioner Reggie Sessions says the Sheriff’s Office is too close to the city Police Department.

“How these agencies intermingle and work together, there’s a perception from the public standpoint that we may not get the truth," said Commissioner Sessions.

The shooting of Demarcus Semer happened a week ago Saturday.  Police tried to stop his car on North 19th Street.  Since the shooting, there have been peaceful protests.  The chief is hoping for continued calm.

“We’re praying for peace and allowing the system to continue and truly investigate this because we want truth and we want justice as well.”

We have not yet seen the full personnel files of the officers involved, but Officer Holmes was involved in another fatal shooting back in 2012 when a man with a long criminal record tried to run him down.

The viewing for Demarcus Semer is Friday.  Funeral services are Saturday morning.