TUESDAY CALL-IN DAY: Demand transparency from Collier County Sheriff’s Office!

TOMORROW: “We are fighting for the truth”… Support the family of Nicolas Morales, farmworker shot and killed by Collier County Sheriff’s Deputy by calling Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk at 239-252-0555

As readers of this site know, 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 (CCSO).  There are few details from the night of Nicolas’s death, but these facts seem to be established: Three officers, armed with their service weapons and accompanied by a trained police K9, arrived at a quiet street in a housing development just south of Immokalee called Farm Worker Village to find Nicolas, who stood 5’ 1’’, alone in the street with, according to police reports, a shovel and gardening clippers.  13 seconds after the officers arrived at the scene, Nicolas was dead, shot four times by one of the three officers and also bitten by the K9. What exactly happened in those 13 seconds to cause the officer to shoot Nicolas remains entirely unclear.

In spite of urgent calls for transparency from Nicolas’s family and a growing coalition of Southwest Florida community leaders – and most recently, from the Florida First Amendment Foundation President, Pamela Marsh, in last week’s Tampa Bay Times op/ed – the CCSO has done little to cast light on the events of that night.  In the two months since Nicolas’s death, the Sheriff’s Office has issued only three short statements while refusing to release key information.  The public still has not seen either the official autopsy report or the dash cam video from the police vehicles present at the scene when Nicolas was shot.

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, summarized in last Friday’s op/ed:

Why was it necessary to shoot a man allegedly armed with garden tools when the deputies were equipped with a trained police dog? Why are the Sheriff’s Office statements on the events of that night inconsistent when it comes to what sort of tools Morales was carrying? What efforts were made at a non-violent resolution in the 13 seconds between the officers’ arrival and Morales’ death? The answers to these questions could determine whether the deputies’ use of force was justified.

In the end, rather than assuage the community’s concerns, the Sheriff’s Office’s three statements only cast more doubt on any conceivable justification for Nicolas’s violent and untimely death at the hands of those committed to protecting — not killing — the public whom they serve. 

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, 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.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 24, two days ahead of Thanksgiving – when we should all be looking inward to reflect on our gratitude for the women and men who harvest our food – we are instead compelled to call out for transparency from the Sheriff’s Office. 

Here are the details for tomorrow’s action:

Call-in day: Tuesday, November 24

Number to call:  Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, 239-252-0555

Here below is more information to include on your call:

  • It is the week of Thanksgiving, and I want to express my support for the farmworker community of Immokalee, the people who put food on our tables
  • I heard about the death of Nicolas Morales, a farmworker and single father, who was shot and killed on September 17th by Collier County Corporal Pierre Richard Jean, only 13 seconds after he and his fellow deputies arrived at the scene
  • Nicolas’s death has been a terrible loss for the Immokalee community and Nicolas’s family, and now a young boy is left in this world without his father – and we need to know why
  • Over the last two months, the information released by the Sheriff’s Office has been contradictory and incomplete, in spite of urgent calls for transparency from Nicolas’s family and a broad coalition of Southwest Florida community leaders
  • Not only that, but your office put the deputy responsible for the shooting back on active duty in the community on September 24, just one week after the incident
  • I am calling today to ask for the immediate release of the dash cam footage from the police vehicles from which the three deputies emerged before Nicolas was shot, so that both the Immokalee community and Nicolas’s family can know the truth about what happened that night
  • According to Florida law, your office has the discretion to release the dash cam footage, just like you released the audio of the 911 call from the night Nicolas was shot
  • For the sake of rebuilding trust with the public, will you commit to releasing that footage by Thanksgiving?