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Morales’s family comes together with CIW, Collier faith and community leaders to make public call for transparency, justice…

Lucas Benitez, CIW: “A police officer killed one of us a month ago in the quiet streets of Farmworker Village… We can’t bring Nicolas back to life; we can’t give his son his father back.  But we can work together to ensure that justice is done, that the truth of Nicolas’s death is told.”  

Collier County Sheriff’s Office reveals deputy who shot farmworker Nicolas Morales already back on active duty in Immokalee;

Last month, Nicolas Morales, a single father and longtime farmworker in Immokalee was shot and killed in the early hours of September 17th by a deputy with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.  Since then, in spite of urgent calls for transparency from Nicolas’s family and a broad coalition of Southwest Florida community leaders, the CCSO has done little to cast light on the events of that night, releasing only three short, contradictory statements while withholding key information, including the official autopsy report and dashcam video that sits with the State Attorney’s office more than a month after Nicolas’s death. 

Earlier this month we provided a detailed analysis of the many significant contradictions contained in the CCSO’s three statements on Nicolas’s fatal shooting, concluding:

Indeed, rather than build a believable picture, and comprehensive understanding, of the 13 seconds between the deputies’ arrival on the scene and the firing of the four fatal shots, the CCSO’s statements contain a number of significant inconsistencies, factual discrepancies that prompt yet more urgent questions.  In the end, rather than assuage the community’s concerns, the three statements only cast more doubt on any conceivable justification for Nicolas’ violent and untimely death at the hands of those committed to protecting — not killing — the public whom they serve. 

You can find our breakdown of the CCSO’s statements in its entirety here.

More than a month after one of its deputies fired four shots from his service weapon and took Nicolas’s life, the CCSO has failed to take any of the steps necessary to explain the deputy’s actions, rebuild trust with the community, or provide some semblance of closure for Nicolas’s family.  On the contrary, as NBC-2 revealed on Wednesday, the CCSO has placed the deputy involved in the shooting back on active duty in Immokalee – despite the fact that the official investigation remains unresolved.

In the face of the CCSO’s callous indifference to the community’s concerns, patience is wearing thin in Immokalee.  On Wednesday, Nicolas’s family gathered with faith and community leaders from across Collier County for a press conference in Naples to demand the immediate release of the dashcam footage, the autopsy report, and other key information and recordings from the night of Nicolas’s death – and their voices were carried by every major television and radio station in Southwest Florida, as well as some national outlets.  At the press conference, which was hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, Nicolas’s family was joined by the CIW, the Collier County NAACP, Moms Demand Action of Southwest Florida, Collier Youth for Black Lives, the Fort Myers Congregational United Church of Christ, Collier Freedom, and the national Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), whose Stated Clerk sent a statement in support of the call for transparency read by a local Presbyterian Church leader.

Before diving into the local news coverage, we want to share the CIW’s statement in full, which was delivered by CIW’s Lucas Benitez during the event:

I’d like to begin with a quote from Langston Hughes’s poem, “Let America Be America Again”:

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed —

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

You have heard the facts of this case from Mr. Probinsky — of the death of our friend, of a father, of a farmworker, at the hands of the police — so we will not belabor the facts.  The details speak for themselves — Nicolas was killed, holding nothing in his hand but a gardening tool, shot four times by one of three police officers armed with guns and a trained police dog, a mere 13 seconds after they arrived at the scene.  Nicolas didn’t deserve to be killed that night, to be crushed, in the words of Langston Hughes, by one above.  His death was not inevitable.  It was wrong.  His family, and his community, need all the information that the police have, and have yet to share, so that justice may be done for his wrongful death...

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