"Gov. DeSantis asked to override a State Attorney’s decision, and to call a special investigation.

Photo, Gettyimages.com

Spring Hill/Hunters Lake, Florida (Hernando County), Friday, Feb. 5, 2021:

In a January 26, 2021 letter (and index of documents) sent to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (arrived February 1st), Hernando County civic activist Brian Moore laid out a case against the 5th District State Attorney’s Office for dereliction of duty and unethical conduct, thereby disqualifying the state legal counsel from having jurisdiction over a 2009 Hernando County event resulting in a police chase drowning. Moore urged the Florida governor “to appoint a special investigative commission, to properly determine the prosecutorial merit of the James Rayford drowning on Hunters Lake.”

Mr. Rayford was a black individual, classified as a fugitive for not making court appearances in nearby Pasco County for petty drug violations. On September 10, 2009, the fugitive was pursued by a Hernando County Sheriff’s contingent of deputies, several of whom piloted a police helicopter, to pursue Mr. Rayford, who was reported by his girlfriend to be fishing in a small boat on Hunters Lake in Hernando County.

According to witnesses interviewed by the local activist, Rayford was knocked from the boat and catapulted into the air by a low hovering helicopter and its powerful rotating blades, which were within several feet, if not inches, of the victim. Rayford attempted to emerge above the churning water several times, with the helicopter still hovering low over the victim. Mr. Rayford then disappeared beneath the surface and was found floating dead in the lake, by sheriff deputies, two days later.

Moore pleaded for a review of the Rayford case with Governor DeSantis after exhausting an array of letters to multiple agencies and officials in both 2009 and 2010, and again in 2020 and 2021.

The local activist was unaware in 2009 and 2010 that police events involving civilians are required to be turned over to the local State Attorney’s office for official review by both sheriff offices and the FDLE. The result in 2010 was that these governmental agencies, nor Governor Charlie Crist at the time, did not advise Moore or refer the matter to the 5th District State Attorney’s office, Brad King. King, likewise, made no effort nor took the initiative in 2009 to investigate the matter, despite his duty in these mortal civilian deaths involving police authorities.

Eleven years later, after Moore was advised by Governor DeSantis in a July 31, 2020 letter, to take the Rayford issue to the local State Attorney jurisdiction where the death occurred The Hernando County resident wrote SA Brad King one week later, on August 5, 2020, requesting that the 5th District State Attorney conduct its “ first" investigation into the Rayford matter, despite King’s absence from the case for eleven years. On September 5th, Attorney King sent a terse, three-sentence response, refusing to conduct an investigation, basing his position on "previous investigations” by the Hernando County Sheriff’s office and the FDLE. King added that Moore’s letter did not provide any "new evidence."

Moore had also petitioned King, not only because the matter was under Mr. King's jurisdiction in 2009, and that he had abdicated his responsibility, but also in light of the recent recognition and new actions by state governors to call for re-investigations of previous cases involving racial minority deaths at the hands of police.

Brad King in Ocala office

photo by Ocala.com

Adding fuel to the fire, Moore highlighted recent errors in correspondence from the FDLE and the US Justice Department by their referring the Rayford event as occurring in another county location (Hillsborough), and the Civil Rights office’s erroneous name of the victim as Raymond James, raising further questions as to the credibility of their own previous investigations.

Moore further addressed Brad King’s unethical actions on April 24, 2020, when he surprisingly announced he would resign at the end of the year. This announcement was done on the last day for candidate qualification submissions. Attorney King's action effectively enabled only his trusted aide, William Gladson, to apply as the sole candidate for the elective position .

New State Attorney for 5th District

photo by sao5.org

[Hernando County activist Brlan Moore is the coordinator for the NatureCoast Coalition for Peace and Social Justice; and has been a candidate for county, state and federal political offices, as both a registered Democrat and Independent, from 2002 to 2014. In 2008 he was the official presidential candidate for the Socialist Party USA].


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