Written by: Beth Walton August 31 2017
Across the nation in the hours following a fatal police shooting, top law-enforcement officials often remain tight lipped and reveal only scant details as a criminal investigation commences.
Not Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar.
Two women who were not criminals have been shot to death by Indian River County deputies in 2017. In each case, Loar stepped in front of TV cameras within 24 hours of the killing, encountering both criticism and strong community support. He spoke both times with a somber tone and didn’t mince words as he defended his officers’ actions.
But sometimes, in the early hours of an investigation, details from a crime scene are rapidly changing, and sometimes the sheriff’s earliest remarks prove wrong.
Advocates for the families of Alteria Woods, who was shot 10 times by deputies during a drug raid in Gifford on March 19, and Susan Teel, who was killed by a deputy in her home on July 26, have questioned whether the sheriff’s public statements hamper the likelihood of a thorough and proper investigation.
When the top lawman “exonerates” his deputies before the facts are known, this influences public opinion and Sheriff’s Office personnel conducting the criminal investigation, said Guy Rubin.