Fort Pierce pastors, lawmakers push for change following Demarcus Semer grand jury decision

Posted at 8:12 PM, Sep 20, 2016

Fort Pierce pastors are urging the community to remain peaceful as some are disappointed to hear a grand jury will not indict two officers involved in the shooting death of Demarcus Semer.

The decision came down just one day after what would have been Semer's 22nd birthday.

Several pastors with the Lincoln Park Council of Ministers and Representative Larry Lee held a news conference following the announcement of the decision.

They detailed their hopes that all of the information related to the investigation will be made available, saying 'if justice was served, there should be no issue providing all the facts.'

"The life of this young man was taken so unexpectedly and senselessly, that's how we see it," said Reverend Kenny Mills.

A friend of Demarcus Semer was also at the news conference. "I feel disappointed. I feel heartbroken. I feel justice has not been served," said Lafayette Ashley.

Now, pastors and Rep. Lee are calling for numerous changes from city leaders and police following the shooting, and the grand jury decision.

"No one has ever loved and raised a child who'd expect anything less than full information and full disclosure about what happened," said Mills.

RELATED: No indictment in Demarcus Semer police-involved shooting

Some anger in the community is based around the way grand juries are conducted in Florida. It's closed door, no media and just the state presenting evidence.

Representative Lee said he is talking with other members of the House to about drafting a bill to change some grand jury procedure

"This grand jury system right now I think needs to be changed. There needs to be more transparency. I believe if the system was different than it was right now, you wouldn't have such an uproar in communities when verdicts like this are made public," Lee said.

"Right now you can only stay outside. You don't know what was presented and what was not presented."

Pastors also released bullet points of changes they want police and the city to consider:

1. A civilian review board of community residents to address complaints of unfair or discriminatory conduct by police.

2.That board must have the authority to handle complaints from the citizens, and also to help review policy and data regarding police practices, processes, and usage of force in out community.

3. We request all law enforcement officers in the county must be equipped with body cameras, and city/council officials allocate finances for the purchases.

4. All patrol cars must have dash cams and are used at all times. Cameras provide an unbiased, objective view, and they protect the Officer as well as the citizen.

5. We are calling for law enforcement agencies in the county to have a Memorandum of Understanding with the FDLE to investigate police shootings, to ensure independence, and prevent the appearance of impropriety.

6. We also need more hiring and recruitment of minority officers, and our officers need quality training on how to interact fairly and respectfully with minority citizens, without discrimination, harassment of fear.

Pastors promise to work with the community to achieve these goals.