Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 6:25 a.m.
The motto of the Broward Sheriff's Office could be "if it's uncomfortable, don't talk about it." The death of an inmate by suicide, with plenty of warning signs, in a Broward jail? Silence. The federal investigation into Lt. David Benjamin, who ferried Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein to his getaway jet? Silence.
The South Florida Times
' coverage of an an unsettling hogtieing death in 2001, long before Lamberti took office? Silence.
Enter Democratic sheriff candidate Scott Israel, who is using the last weeks of the campaign to associate the current sheriff with unsavory stuff. With 26 days until the election, Israel took to a podium in front of the African-American Research Library on Friday to call for an investigation into the 11-year-old hogtieing case.
On October 15, 2001, Oral Brown, a black businessman, was involved in a traffic accident that caused his vehicle to flip over and land upside-down in the Swap Shop parking lot. He was reportedly having a seizure at the time. Cops claimed he was resisting arrest and tied him facedown to a stretcher, with his arms tied to his legs. The medical examiner later said this was the cause of his "accidental" death. Numerous witnesses said they were never questioned for the subsequent investigation or the grand jury.
And what, exactly, does this have to do with Lamberti?
Israel is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Sheriff Al Lamberti in the November election and he is the first candidate to publicly express concern over the controversial case. He criticized his opponent for having a "lack of respect and compassion for justice, or Brown's family."
The Broward Sheriff's Office has not responded to questions about Israel's call for a special prosecutor and Lamberti has yet to comment on the case.
That last part is the key. While Jones was uncovering twists and turns and conflicts of interest, BSO said nothing. There's great power in the knowledge that if you refuse to engage in a discussion of something, it can be almost like that thing doesn't exist. That's the secret behind power in Broward County, actually. When was the last time you learned something about the life story of a guy killed by the police around here?
On the other hand, Lamberti had not a thing to do with the arrest itself and probably wasn't expecting Israel to latch onto this case as a way to criticize him. But at this point, it would do everybody good for him to say something.