Ocala, Florida — Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies Trevor Wade Fitzgerald, 32, and James Louis Amidei, 32, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to the August 7, 2014, beating of Marion Oaks drug ringleader, Derrick Price, 44.
There were a total of five deputies involved in Price’s arrest. The remaining three deputies have been identified as Cody Hoppel, Adam Crawford, and Jesse Terrell, referred to in court documents as deputies 1, 2, and 3.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the arrest was recorded on surveillance video at two local businesses located on Marion Oaks Boulevard.
Officials said that Fitzgerald sat on Price’s legs during the beating, while Amidei stood by and watched the beating.
Since the incident, all five deputies have been on suspension.
According to federal court documents obtained by Ocala Post, Fitzgerald and Amidei were charged with one count each of Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law; specifically, failure to intervene to stop the assault, resulting in bodily injury to Price.
The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, a term of supervised release of not more than 3 years, and a special assessment of $100 per felony count.
One of the Elements of the Offense listed for Count one was: the [deputies] deprived Price of a right secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, namely, the right to be free from unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from unreasonable force, In this case, the Information charges that the [deputies] violated Price’s right to be free from an unreasonable seizure because (1) Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies used unreasonable force against Price, (2) the [deputies] knew the force used was unreasonable; and (3) the [deputies] failed to intervene.
The “Factual Basis” contained within the court documents spelled out the actions of the deputies on August 7.
The five deputies participated in an operation that included the execution of multiple search warrants, including one for Price’s home.
After officers learned that Price had fled his home when officers arrived, they searched for him for nearly an hour, when Price was spotted in the area of 100 Marion Oaks Boulevard, Ocala.
Fitzgerald was in a truck with deputies 1, 2, and 3. Amidei approached the area on foot, when the deputies saw Price run into a parking lot of a small strip of businesses.
Deputies in the pick-up truck drove ahead of Amidei.
Amidei stated that it was at that time he saw that Price had stopped running, put his hands in the air, kneeled on the ground while his hands remained raised, and laid flat on the ground with his arms stretched out with his palms facing down.
The court documents note that: at that time, Price had fully surrendered, his hands were visible, he was compliant and non-resisting, and he did not appear to pose any threat to the deputies, himself, or others.
Amidei approached Price as Fitzgerald and deputies 1, 2, and 3 exited the pick-up truck and surrounded Price.
The court documents read as follows:
“The video footage depicts the unnecessary and unreasonable use of force by three deputies who beat, kicked, and kneed a fully compliant Price while Amidei and Fitzgerald failed to intervene to protect the arrestee, despite having the opportunity to do so. Deputy 2 kneeled down at the right side of Price’s head and shoulder, Deputy 3 positioned himself immediately above Price’s head, Deputy 1 took a position at Price’s left side, and Fitzgerald straddled the back of Price’s legs as Deputy Amidei hovered above the deputies directly behind Deputy 1. At no time did Price resist the deputies or pose a threat in any fashion. After Deputy 2 initially grabbed Price’s left arm from Price’s right side, pinning Price’s right arm to the ground, Deputies 1, 2, and 3 began beating Price as [he] lay on the ground.”
Amidei stated that during the assault on Price, his focus was principally drawn to Deputies 1 and 3. Deputy 1 repeatedly struck Price in the ribs with his knee, while Deputy 3 repeatedly punched and kicked Price in the face, head, neck, and shoulder.
Amidei stated that he had a sense that Deputy 2 was striking Price, but was not sure where or how many times the Deputy had struck Price.
Fitzgerald, however, had a better vantage point. He saw Deputies 1, 2, and 3 beating Price.
The court document states that, “Fitzgerald saw Deputies 1, 2, and 3 using unnecessary force under the circumstances.”
Fitzgerald stated that he saw Deputy 2 punching Price in the head, neck and shoulders.
Both Amidei and Fitzgerald stated that there was blood covering Price’s face and the pavement.
Records stated that at no time was any force necessary to be used upon Price once [he] surrendered, other than to place handcuffs on him.
Court documents note, “[Price] did not spit, kick, strike, move, threaten, or resist officers in any way. Price was compliant and immobilized during the entire time of the beating.”
Knowing that the beating was wrong and could subject all the deputies to liability and/or prosecution, Fitzgerald submitted falsified reports in an attempt to cover up the fact that they had violated the law.
Amidei also submitted falsified reports. Additionally, he made false statements to Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators while under oath.
The falsified reports included a charge for resisting arrest.
This case has gained a large amount of attention from the black community, namely because all five officers are presumed to be white.
Amidei and Fitzgerald have not been taken into custody yet. They remain free on their own recognizance until their sentencing.
On Thursday, Amidei and Fitzgerald surrendered their Passports to the Clerk of Court.
The two have also been advised that they can no longer be in possession of a firearm or other weapon.
While out of custody, they must also report any contact with law enforcement personnel, including questioning, arrests, or traffic stops.
The video has not yet been released to the media.
You can read the original story, view all photos, and see all those arrested in the drug raid here.