Tallahassee, FL—Years before the November 2015 deadly ambush of two Leon County Sheriff’s Deputies, Governor Rick Scott was informed about the possibility of Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell’s incompetency. Was it Governor Scott’s failure to follow-up on Sheriff Campbell as to why Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Smith was murdered, and Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy Colin Wulfekuhl was left injured?
Apparently, the gunman that killed Smith and wounded Wulfekuhl was no stranger to a select few deputies at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, including LCSO Sergeant Wiley Meggs, the son of longtime serving Leon County Judicial Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs. It was stated that Sergeant Wiley Meggs had labeled the gunman’s home address as a “Hot Zone,” stating that the man had made numerous threats to harm law enforcement officials and first responders. Several sources reported that when Smith and Wulfekuhl responded to a 911 call to the gunman’s home address, they were unaware that they were entering into a “Hot Zone.” Smith may have died at the scene along with the gunman; post-ambush, the Tallahassee Fire Department and other first responders were not immediately allowed to approach the gunman’s home.
After the ambush, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell was not readily available to speak to the public or the media. In fact, it took Sheriff Larry Campbell more than 24 hours to respond to the murderous ambush of two of his deputies. As Sheriff Campbell held a press conference, he appeared to look gravely ill—his words were extremely inaudible. Neither State Attorney Willie Meggs nor Governor Scott appeared at the press conference. Governor Scott issued a statement of condolences, but seemingly stayed far away from the circus of fingers pointing between the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the Consolidated Dispatch Agency (CDA) as the two agencies blamed one another for communication failures that led up to Deputy Smith being murder.
Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Smith’s wife, children, loved ones and friends deserved a better understanding as to why Deputy Chris Smith (husband, father, beloved son, and friend) would never come home again to celebrate another holiday, birthday or wedding anniversary. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and Governor Rick Scott treated the murder of Deputy Chris Smith with no honor.
The following month, December 2015, after years of battling cancer, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell died. According to some, it was Sheriff Larry Campbell’s wish to die while in office. Could Governor Scott wanting to honor Sheriff Campbell’s wish be the reasoning as to why Governor Scott did not investigate or replace Sheriff Campbell after receiving at least one complaint about Sheriff Campbell’s possible incompetence? Many citizens believe the extent of Sheriff Campbell’s true health condition was possibly concealed for months by members of Sheriff Larry Campbell’s family and Sheriff Campbell’s Command Staff.
During an October 2013 pre-trial hearing, Leon County Sheriff’s Deputy Ronald O’Brien, testified as to having been told to walk a handwritten gang coded letter into the Leon County Jail POD where 17-year-old, DeShon Thomas, was being housed as he awaited trial for the 2011 possession of drug paraphernalia, cultivation of marijuana, double homicide of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, 20-year-old, Laqecia Herring, and her 17-year-old brother, Sterling Connor Jr, and possession of a firearm by a juvenile delinquent. The cases against DeShon were extremely weak. DeShon had been in jail for over a year without any incidents. Especially not gang related. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office has a Gang Task Force that is funded by the federal government. The Gang Task Force was never activated. Deputy O’Brien was not a part of the Gang Task Force.
The gang coded letter that Deputy O’Brien had been instructed to take into the Leon County Jail POD where DeShon was being housed had been written by 28-year-old, Dawuan Williams, a previously convicted felon. Prior to Williams entering into the Leon County Jail, Williams had robbed two major banks in Tallahassee, and then fled the state of Florida. The Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office issued fugitive arrest warrants for Williams. Williams was apprehended in the state of Georgia by the Southeastern Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Tifton County Sheriff’s Office. The Southeastern Regional Fugitive Task Force transported Williams back to Tallahassee—to the Leon County Jail. Leon County Public Defender Nancy Daniels was assigned Williams cases. Williams was facing up to 50 years in prison. Shortly after Williams’ first appearance before a judge, Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell instructed State Attorney Investigator Jason Newlin, to go to the Leon County Jail to speak with Williams. After Newlin first spoke with Williams—Williams agreed to assist Campbell and Newlin to entrap DeShon, DeShon’s mother and DeShon’s older brother on solicitation to commit murder charges. Within minutes after Williams agreed to assist with the entrapments, Williams was released from the Leon County Jail. The next day, Newlin connected with Williams—Newlin instructed Williams to write-out a gang-coded letter and then write-out the same letter translated.
Deputy O’Brien did not work in the Leon County Jail. Deputy O’Brien testified as to having no knowledge of how the mail process worked in regards to the processing of inmates mail. Deputy O’Brien was given an envelope that had United States Post Office markings copied onto it to appear as though the letter had come through the United States Post Office. Deputy O’Brien was told where to go inside of the Leon County Jail and where in the POD to place the letter—without alarming any of the on duty correctional officers—in order for DeShon to receive it. Deputy O’Brien walked the letter into the POD and placed the letter where DeShon Thomas received his normally processed mail. Deputy O’Brien’s actions were illegal (transporting contraband). Deputy O’Brien’s actions were just one of many desperate circus acts performed by Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell in order to get a conviction against DeShon. The double homicide case against DeShon was weak. And, yet, again, Governor Rick Scott failed to protect deputies and correctional officers at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.
Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs routinely assigned Jack Campbell to prosecute cases that were under the investigative jurisdiction of Sheriff Larry Campbell—who is also Jack Campbell’s dad. Sheriff Campbell was the arresting and investigating agency on DeShon cases. With Sheriff Campbell having served in office for more than a decade, Jack Campbell was highly familiar of the Leon County Jail’s mode/standard of operations, policies and procedures. The Campbell’s investigative/ prosecution team was planned to spoon feed Jack Campbell convictions. The plan for Jack Campbell to replace Willie Meggs after Meggs retired completely disregarded moral ethics of many people within Leon County’s Judicial Circuit. Many of Sheriff Campbell’s deputies and detectives played along—following Jack Campbell’s instructions. And in doing so, deputies committed perjury, acts of fraud, were overlooked by Sheriff Campbell to please his wealthy friends—at least one friend (a non-certified law enforcement officer) received a badge, a patrol car, a position as a crime scene detective—a detective with the violent crimes unit—a position as a lead investigator on a double homicide case.
In February 2016, this site posted an article entitled, ‘Florida Governor; Correctional Officers Suicides.’ In the article, DeShon Thomas’ mother expresses her concerns about Gulf Correctional Institute located in Wewahitchka, Florida. In part, she states, “In comparison the correctional officers at Century’s Prison, Gulf’s Prison Annex correctional officers failed several levels of administrative and security checks. The metal detectors may have not been working. There were no handheld scanners used.”
DeShon’s mother observed the tremendous lack of staff at Gulf Correctional Institute Annex. From the beginning of visitation to the end of visitation, there was one female correctional officer that manually checked everyone in—including verifying all documentation, frisking women and children—removing and replacing items in baby diaper bags, escorting all visitors to the main visitation room. After visitation, the same female correctional officer manually checked all visitors out of visitation, escorted all visitors back to the entrance, and returned all items that she’d confiscated—that were not allowed into the prison. The female correctional officer looked exhausted! While the female correctional officer had been harshly verbally criticized by many of the visitors, who’d traveled hundreds of miles to visit with their loved ones, DeShon Thomas’ mother, brother and other family members thanked her for her time.
Although DeShon was eventually transferred from Gulf Correctional Institution Annex, a source informed DeShon that 23-year-old, Brandon Devon Steadman, a Tallahassee native, died on October 7, 2016. Mr. Steadman was an inmate at Gulf Correctional Institute at the time of his death. Mr. Steadman’s obituary is online (Floridaobituary.com). Mr. Steadman obituary states in part he “passed unexpectedly.” Regardless of Mr. Steadman’s criminal acts, Mr. Steadman’s family and friends deserve to know more about Mr. Steadman’s death.
In February 2014, Orange County Deputy Scott Pine was murdered in the line of duty. Deputy Pine’s wife, Bridget Pine, struggled mentally and financially to support her and their three children. Deputy Pine’s wife had to set her mental health aside in order to take action to get a bill passed to expand survivor’s benefits. Although Governor Scott signed the bill, the pay for law enforcement officers is low grade.
According to the Miami Herald, Governor Rick Scott wants to “reward 4,000 state law enforcement officers with 5 percent pay raises.”
NorthEscambia.com reports, ‘Higher Pay Sought For FHP Troopers.’ Their article in part, states, “Scott, who is expected to run for U.S. Senate next year, said last month he will ask for $30 million to cover pay raises for state law-enforcement officers for the fiscal year that begins July 2018. Law-enforcement officers are spread across different state agencies.”
The report above comes on the heels of the June 21, 2017 Editorial of the Hartford Courant article entitled, ‘Florida? No Thanks, Gov. Scott’ And after News 8 wtnh.com reporting about Governor Rick Scott’s campaigning in Connecticut to get businesses to move to Florida coupled with the recent death of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Master Sergeant William Bishop, prompted Connecticut’s ‘…State Police Union to tell FL. Gov. to go home.”
Swiftly Seeks Death Penalty
Many citizens of Orange/Osceola counties who elected Aramis Ayala to become Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit State Attorney would like to know how many of Mrs. Ayala’s criminal cases did Governor Rick Scott review for himself, or assembled a special committee to review, before he removed them out of her office and placed them in Florida’s 5th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King’s Office?
Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit State Attorney Jack Campbell’s Office prosecuted a Death Penalty case against Henry Segura, a Black man, in spite of having knowledge of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement DNA analyst’s admission to having suppressed evidence for years that favored the defense, and an 11th hour confession by a gang that also favored the defense member. Jack Campbell is a Democrat. Jack Campbell inherited Mr. Segura’s case from longtime serving 2nd Judicial Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs. Jack Campbell worked for Meggs as an assistant state attorney—top prosecutor—for more than a decade. Mr. Segura had been sitting in the Leon County Jail for nearly a decade awaiting trial on quadruple murder charges. The evidence against Mr. Segura was weak from the start. In August 2017, after two weeks of trial testimony, a jury deadlocked—and the judge declared a mistrial. The Death Penalty trial cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Governor Rick Scott has not publicly criticized State Attorney Jack Campbell’s decision to follow former State Attorney Willie Meggs—by moving forward with seeking the Death Penalty for Mr. Segura in spite of having very weak evidence.
Floridapolitics.com recently named Ralph Wright Jr. as Florida’s “…twenty-seventh death row prisoner in Florida to be exonerated.”
If DeShon Thomas had been just six months older at the time of his arrest, his case would’ve been a Death Penalty case. Officials sat back and allowed 17-year-old, DeShon Thomas, to be kidnapped by a wealthy White man who was given privileges to impersonate a Leon County Sheriff’s Detective. Officials allowed Mr. Segura to spend nearly a decade of his life in the Leon County Jail knowing that the case against him was extremely weak. Officials allowed Ralph Wright Jr. and 26 other Death Row inmates—and counting—to be wrongly convicted.
Apparently, Governor Rick Scott does not want 21st Century Policing. Florida’s law enforcement officers and correctional officers put their lives on the line to protect everyone—without fanfare. They deserve full protection from Governor Scott. Seemingly, Governor Scott wants to enforce swift Death Penalty charges against criminals without knowing all of the “facts.” And, without any concern, as to the millions of taxpayer dollars that will be wasted in a Death Penalty trial with evidence that is extremely weak. Governor Scott’s low approval rating is with much merit. And all of those who work under him are merely collateral damage.
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