Residents want transparent shooting probe

Posted at 9:45 AM, Apr 28, 2016

FORT PIERCE, Fla.-- Nearly 100 Fort Pierce residents packed city hall Wednesday night demanding city leaders write to the Department of Justice, requesting it to lead the investigation into the latest officer-involved shooting in the city.

Some residents say they don’t feel the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office can complete a fair or unbiased investigation.

Detectives say two Fort Pierce police officers were involved in a shooting that killed 21-year-old Demarcus Semer.

City leaders decided Wednesday that they will write a letter to the Department of Justice, just not the letter residents wanted.

Commissioner Reggie Sessions wanted the letter to request the Department of Justice lead the investigation.

“The sheriff’s department is not acceptable,” Sessions said.

But, commissioners in a unanimous vote passed a motion to send a letter asking only that the DOJ evaluate whether their help is actually needed.

Residents stormed out of the meeting, and began protests outside city hall.

“You’re giving us something to shut our mouth, that’s what you’re doing. You’re not giving us what we want,” said resident Christy Woods.

Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney assured residents Wednesday night that the relationship between the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office is business only. There would be no bias, she said.

“Bring the justice, bring a third party in here that’s going to be transparent and check on this investigation,” said resident Mark Hadden.

City Manager, Nick Mimms, said there are outside agencies monitoring the investigation, such as the FBI.

Commissioner Edward Becht says he didn’t want to send the wrong message to the Sheriff.

“I’m very uncomfortable with sending a letter to the Department of Justice that tells my sheriff I don’t think you’re doing a good job.”

St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara also assured residents the investigation will be done right.

“I promise at the end of this investigation, it will be complete, fair and thorough and if my name is on it the truth will be there,” Mascara said.

Sessions urged residents to write their own letters to the Department of Justice.

Residents say they are organizing a letter-writing event.