Updated, Sept. 14 at 6:22 p.m.: Keith Perry emailed the following statement seven hours after GPD’s video release. He also said he would speak about the incident to the media in more detail on Thursday.
Anyone who knows me, knows that it takes quite a bit to rile me up. What began as a silly disagreement over a legal campaign yard sign – that was authorized by the owner to be placed in his yard – escalated, and for my part in that, I apologize.
As you can clearly see in the video, I approached Mr. Leppla in good faith to resolve the issue and at one point, he even agreed to help place the sign back where he found it. I did not react when he chest-bumped me, the first contact made by either of us. In fact, it wasn’t until he made threatening comments to my wife and spit in my face that I pushed him away to prevent him from spitting on me again.
Monday I released a statement indicating this had been resolved, because that was what I was led to believe. It is my understanding that Mr. Leppla attempted on multiple occasions to dismiss his complaint with calls to GPD and the officer handling the case. Unfortunately, the officer was off duty until later Monday afternoon, and by 4:00 p.m. when he called back, the case had already been moved to the State’s Attorney office – a procedural development that prevented Mr. Leppla from withdrawing his complaint.
While I have the opportunity to bring charges against Mr. Leppla, I have no intentions of escalating this any further. For anybody offended by my actions I humbly apologize.
Updated, Sept. 14 at 10:07 a.m.: The Gainesville Police Department has released a video showing the Saturday incident involving State Rep. Keith Perry.
GPD has released records involved with the case despite having previously used a public records exemption for the majority of the items connected to the case.
“Due to multiple requests from many different news outlets, and in an effort to be as transparent as possible in an incident involving a politician, we have chosen to release additional records,” spokesman Ben Tobias said in an email.
This is a seven-minute raw clip taken from 34 total minutes of security camera footage that GPD released Wednesday. The clips starts with a man seen in the window reflection taking down Perry’s campaign sign.
At the 5:35 mark, a physical confrontation begins:
At the 6:42 mark, Perry reenters the frame:
Updated, Sept. 13 at 2:07 p.m.: Despite State Rep. Keith Perry sending out an email on Monday saying the battery and trespassing complaint against him was withdrawn, Gainesville police spokesman Ben Tobias told WUFT about 2 p.m. Tuesday that the complaint had not been withdrawn and the investigation is ongoing.
State Rep. Keith Perry was involved in an alleged battery and trespassing incident at a home on West University Avenue in Gainesville on Saturday.
The incident report from Gainesville police doesn’t list Perry, but police spokesman Ben Tobias confirmed to WUFT News that Perry was involved.
The report lists the “Weapons/Tools” were purportedly “hands, feet, fists and spitting.” Tobias said further details aren’t available because of the ongoing investigation.
Messages left with Perry weren’t immediately returned Monday.
Kristen Bridges, of Bascom Communications & Consulting, wrote in an email later Monday: “Please accept the below comment on behalf of Keith Perry. … ‘Happy to let you know that this issue has been resolved. After the parties discussed the situation, we agreed that this was based on a misunderstanding, as evidenced by the fact that the complaint has been withdrawn and the sign will be put back up by the property owner.'”
Politico reported Perry said the incident was “just a misunderstanding” when he stopped and confronted a man who was taking down one of his campaign signs.
One of the two victims listed on the report told WUFT he would comment on the incident, but not on Monday. The phone number for the second victim is inactive.
Perry represents Florida District 21, which includes Dixie, Gilchrist and Alachua counties. Perry, a Republican, is seeking the District 8 seat in the Florida Senate in November’s elections against Democrat Rod Smith.