Okaloosa Death Still Leaves Questions

By: Mike Tolbert
By: Mike Tolbert

Officers say Nelson died from cocaine use, not the shocks he received when Okaloosa County sheriff deputies used a taser on him, but his family and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is disputing the findings.

Nelson's family says it doesn't believe cocaine had anything to do with his death. They’ve asked the SCLC to help them do an independent investigation of the fatal run-in he had with Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies last month.

Tuesday, SCLC leaders released new evidence they say supports the family.

Okaloosa County deputies say on July 3, Demetrius Nelson was having an argument with his girlfriend in the parking lot of the Destin Books-a-Million. Deputies say when they tried to calm him down, he became violent and they tased him. He died soon after.

Head of the SCLC Pensacola Chapter, Ellison Bennett, first points to the deputy responsible for tasing Mr. Nelson.

"We’ve spoken with a prominent physician in the area who has indicated that he too was accosted by this officer, that he too had problems with this officer and in fact had problems just one week before,” Bennett explains.

But what about the cocaine found in Nelson's body? Bennett suggests a possible cover-up.

"I believe that there were certainly some problems with how that sample got to the lab and how the cocaine got into the sample,” adds Bennett.

Tuesday night on a Pensacola public access channel, Bennett discussed the SCLC’s findings and showed an interview by a psychologist of an eight-year-old boy, the son of Nelson's girlfriend, and a witness.

Bennett also says another witness has come forward but he would not add any more details.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office has not seen any of this new information, and SCLC leaders say they have no plans to share it with them. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will most likely talk to the boy and the new witness in their continuing investigation.


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