A Pensacola Police detective involved in the fatal shooting of a suspect in a July confrontation has been fired.
Daniel Siemen was the only officer to discharge his weapon during the incident involving Tymar Crawford on July 5. He had been on paid administrative leave since then.
“The detective was terminated after an internal investigation by the Pensacola Police Department; and he was found to have violated the department’s use of deadly force policy,” said Officer Mike Wood, a Pensacola Police spokesman.
The case involving Crawford, according to earlier media reports, appeared to have been one of self-defense. Crawford was said to have taken another officer’s weapon away from him and was about to shoot, and then Siemen intervened.
“There was a struggle over an officer’s taser; Tymar Crawford had control of the officer’s taser with two hands [and] the shots were fired after that,” Wood said. “There’s still an investigation going on by the state attorney’s office, and the evidence still has to be presented to a grand jury, so I can’t get into the details of what exactly happened, until those investigations are complete.”
And Wood added that the policy under which Siemen was terminated has undergone some recent, robust scrutiny.
“We have policies,” Wood said. “And those policies and procedures are sound procedures and they were recently looked at by a group that ended up accrediting the police department – which is a difficult thing to do. They look over everything we do and we stand behind our policies and procedures.”
“Anytime we have an officer-involved shooting, we request the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conduct an independent investigation into the matter, and provide that investigation to us,” said State Attorney Bill Eddins.
His office plans to conduct an additional investigation, including the re-interviewing of witnesses. The internal inquiry by PPD followed an independent investigation by FDLE. The shooting will also be reviewed by a grand jury, to determine whether this was a criminal act.
“The grand jury has two functions,” Eddins said. “One is they can return a criminal indictment. The other one is that they have the authority and responsibility to investigate the operations of government when requested to do so by my office.”
Part of the grand jury’s work will be to review the policies and procedures of the police department, to determine whether or not they were up to date and were appropriate. Eddins is also ordering a review of whether adequate training had been provided to the officers involved in the Crawford shooting, as well as to all other Pensacola Police officers.
“That decision was made in part because [Mayor Grover Robinson] had requested the U.S. Attorney to provide training to the police department,” said Eddins. “So, I felt that it would be appropriate for a grand jury to review that matter to determine whether or not they needed training, and if so, what training was needed.”
The death of Tymar Crawford has become a hot-button issue with a number of groups in the Pensacola area. Eddins says it’s also a very important issue for the general public.
“When I made the decision to present the matter to the grand jury, I explained at that time that I intended to present the matter as soon as I could without rushing,” Eddins said. “And so I expect to present the matter within the next few weeks.”
But, why empanel a grand jury? State Attorney Bill Eddins believes it’s the appropriate action in this instance.
“I believe in the grand jury system because they are a cross-section of the community; chosen from the community – a wide section of the community – and they speak for the community,” said Eddins. “And I believe that this is the correct approach to take.”
If the grand jury returns a true bill – that is, finding there’s evidence of criminal wrongdoing – the state attorney’s office would prosecute. If PPD’s policies and procedures are called into question, the panel could recommend changes.