Sheriff Says Race Not Involved In Derrick Price Arrest

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Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair answers questions during a press conference regarding the five officers under investigation for civil rights violations. (Carel Lajara/WUFT News).
Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair answers questions during a press conference regarding the five officers under investigation for civil rights violations. (Carel Lajara/WUFT News).

No new information was revealed about the August 2014 arrest of Derrick Price by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at a Thursday press conference, but the sheriff did say the arrest wasn’t race related.

The press conference comes on the heels of former Marion County deputy Jesse Terrell being indicted Wednesday for the incident.

Terrell, along with four other officers, were investigated in the aftermath of their arrest of Price on a drug-related warrant.

At the press conference, Sheriff Chris Blair described the occurrence as an isolated incident that has nothing to do with race. Price is black, and all five officers captured in the video are white.

There is no trend of white officers attacking black people, Blair said. “These are individuals making poor decisions.”

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn said after the press conference that Price’s arrest was planned ahead of time, but the way it was carried out wasn’t something the sheriff could have predicted.

Guinn said police are trained but not to do what is seen in the video.

Blair has been handling the situation effectively, Guinn said.

Blair said he asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the incident, and all evidence was turned over to FDLE.

“We wanted immediate action,” said Dennis Bustle, special agent at FDLE. “And Blair wanted it done right.”

Programs, including body cameras, are being discussed to increase the transparency within the sheriff’s office, Blair said.

The sheriff said he hopes that the decisions of a few individuals do not tarnish the reputation of the sheriff’s office.

“MCSO has no tolerance for this kind of behavior,” he said. “It was very disheartening. … Without integrity, we have nothing.”

About Carel Lajara

Carel is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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