An Escambia County Grand Jury has finished its work in reviewing the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting death of a Pensacola resident by a Pensacola Police detective.
After a week of testimony and deliberations, the Grand Jury has returned a “no true bill” – that is, no charges to be filed -- in the shooting death of Tymar Crawford by Officer Daniel Siemen. State Attorney Bill Eddins says the panel concluded that this matter did not rise to the level of a crime.
“But there were troubling aspects to it that they considered and recommended retraining for officers involving deadly force and also use of tasers as well as many other recommendations,” Eddins said.
Crawford was killed in July during a scuffle with Siemen and two other officers, after a slow-speed chase to a residence near Brainerd and C Streets. Sieman was fired after an internal investigation showed he violated department policies regarding use of force. Eddins says the grand jury was presented with a “very thorough” presentation from witnesses.
“They’ve really taken the time and effort to provide the general public with a report that summarizes the matter accurately, in my opinion, and makes proper recommendations,” said Eddins. “I would certainly strongly encourage the police department and the city to consider their recommendations seriously.”
Those recommendations are divided into three categories in the report: equipment, training, and policies and procedures.
“The 1st recommendation by the grand jury was for immediate retraining of all police officers regarding use of force; use of deadly force, and use of tasers,” Eddins said. “I certainly recommend that that be implemented immediately.”
The grand jury also recommends that video from both dash-cams and body cameras of the altercation be put to use in police training, in order to avoid future such incidents.
“Which makes it clear that the grand jury – while they did not feel that this rose to the level of crime – the report makes it clear that they had concerns about it – as do many members of the general public.”
Other recommendations include: better communication between officers; an emphasis on close-quarter training, situational control, and better emergency medical training. According to the testimony, Siemens had been struck on the head and nearly lost consciousness. But Eddins says you can’t evaluate such a situation using 20-20 hindsight.
“Under the law, the grand jury must consider the totality of the circumstances from the point of view of the officer at the time this occurred,” Eddins said. “There were many factors and considerations that contributed to the decision of the grand jury, as indicated under their finding of the facts of this case.”
The city of Pensacola has received a copy of the grand jury report. Eddins reiterated his call for city officials to strongly consider the recommendations regarding training and policy and procedure – and the grand jury’s call for beefing up oversight of the Pensacola PD from the outside.
“They felt that a citizen advisor committee was an appropriate matter in order to improve communication with the general public,” Eddins said. “And I’m confident that the mayor and the police department will carefully and conscientiously review these recommendations and implement which ones they feel are appropriate.”
The Tymar Crawford shooting led to protests and demonstrations throughout the summer calling for reforms within the police department.