Elderly Black Male Inmate Dies in the Leon County Jail; At Least Eight Leon County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Complaints Filed in 2013 Still Unanswered

Tallahassee, FL—Last week, officials with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office announced the death of one of its jail inmates, sixty-five year-old, Willie C. White. The very next day, following the announcement was the medical examiner’s autopsy report that stated Mr. White died as a result from choking. In addition the Leon County Sheriff’s Office stated that there was no foul play in Mr. White’s death.

After being informed about Mr. White’s death, the mother of former Leon County Jail inmate, DeShon Thomas, immediately stated, “DO NOT TO TRUST OFFICIALS WITH THE LEON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, THE DISTRICT TWO MEDICAL EXAMINER’S OFFICE AND THE 2ND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE. DeShon’s mother understands that she is not the first mother to watch her INNOCENT son get convicted for crimes that he did not commit. But she continues to be sickened by the very thought of how her son was literally stolen—kidnapped from her and his siblings—in this “Free” country. From late January 2011 through October 18, 2013, DeShon’s mother felt and viewed DeShon’s arrest–all through DeShon’s judicial proceedings and through his conviction— as the same feeling and view of that of the late Kevin Carter, a photojournalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for a photograph he took in Sudan in March 1993.

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Carter’s photograph was sold to The New York Times and made its first appearance on March 26, 1993. The photograph depicts a naked starving toddler on the ground with a hooded vulture standing and waiting nearby. It is stated that Kevin Carter was told not to touch the children for fear of transmitting disease. No one reported on whatever happened to the toddler. The photo won the Pulitzer Prize in April 1994. Three months later, in July 1994, Mr. Carter committed suicide. Mr. Carter was thirty-three-years-old.

The first time DeShon’s mother ever read the name “Kevin Carter” and about Mr. Carter’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, was in January 2000. DeShon’s mother was twenty-years-old (DeShon 6-years-old). Never, ever, ever did DeShon’s mother ever believe that she would feel that same since of helplessness—unable to touch her son—unable to protect her son—due to VULTURES—dressed in black robes and suits—standing and sitting and waiting nearby. Surely, the vulture was waiting for the starving toddler to die so that it could feast on its malnourished corpse. Surely, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell, and Regional Counsel Daren Shippy were acting out their courtroom shenanigans to get the case to the jury on Friday, and receive guilty verdicts by five o’clock.

So, in October 2013, during DeShon’s trial, several testimonies of officials were finally put on the record. Several officials, including the medical examiner, committed perjury in order to force the conviction of DeShon. Soon after DeShon was found guilty of Two Counts of 1st Degree Murder and Solicitation to Commit 1st Degree Murder, DeShon’s mother filed complaints with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Division. None of the complaints were ever addressed. At the time, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell went over and beyond to ensure that his son, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell secured the conviction of DeShon. So much so, that Sheriff Larry Campbell assigned a wealthy family friend by the name of Don Odham, as the lead detective on the case. Don Odham helped Chief Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman secure an indictment from the grand jury. Don Odham was NEVER an employee with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. And if Don Odham was a volunteer, Don Odham was allowed to assume responsibilities far beyond that allowed for volunteers.

DeShon Thomas was a 17-year-old, Black male freshman at Tallahassee Community College. There was no physical, material or circumstantial evidence against DeShon. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and his son, State Prosecutor Jack Campbell, set out to make a name for themselves and their wealthy friend, Don Odham. In doing so, they undermined a team of veteran detectives and the citizens of Tallahassee. Using all of their resources, including State Attorney Willie Meggs’, who is responsible for choosing which cases to prosecute, the road was cleared for Leon County Sheriff’s deputies/detective to calmly commit perjury to show their support for State Prosecutor Jack Campbell without concern of being charged with perjury. At trial, those with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office who committed perjury had already been promoted to a higher rank than that in which they were at the time of DeShon’s arrest. Those who did not commit perjury, including the first lead detective, were set as active uniform patrol.

When DeShon’s mother filed a complaint against Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Anthony J. Clark for having committed perjury, DeShon’s mother received a letter from the Department of Health threatening to charge her with violating laws in regards to confidentiality. In spite of DeShon having been found guilty, DeShon’s mother was baffled by the response to her complaint. But then again, the District Two Medical Examiner’s Office reported not being allowed to release the victims’ autopsy reports. Staff with the Medical Examiner’s Office responded to DeShon’s mother’s fax request. A District Two Medical Examiner’s staff informed DeShon’s mother that State Attorney Willie Meggs would not allow the release of the victims’ autopsy reports—two years after DeShon’s arrest—the victims’ autopsy reports were still being kept from Public Record. NONE of DeShon’s attorneys—private or court appointed—would help DeShon and the Public gain access to the victims’ autopsy reports. DeShon was convicted without the victims’ autopsy reports ever being introduced into Public Record.

State Attorney Willie Meggs, Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi have all violated Florida’s Public Records laws. And the message that they are sending to other leaders of state agencies and criminals on the streets is that they do not have to answer and/or respond when they violate laws. When Rick Scott was a private citizen, pleading the 5th Amendment–the right to remain silent–may have benefitted him tremendously. But as a public servant, as “Governor Rick Scott”, the citizens of Florida demands and deserves answers. And not just from Governor Scott, but from all of those, including the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, who has refused to respond to DeShon’s mother’s legitimate complaints, filed against their staff members who serve as public servants.

Far too many people have been wrongly convicted and far too many people have died while being incarcerated. A public servant pleading the 5th should NOT be acceptable when families want answers to their questions/complaints.