DeLand community rallies after suspect run over, killed by officer



DELAND, Fla. - Some DeLand residents came together Monday night to say years of mistrust with their police department had reached a boiling point after a suspect was run over and killed by an officer.

Troopers are still investigating what happened right before Officer James Harris ran over Marlon Brown as he was trying to arrest him.

A local leader called residents together for a packed meeting Monday, and things got heated.

There were so many people, organizers had to keep the doors of First Baptist Church on South Clara Avenue open because of the spill-out.

Residents who attended said they're angry, frustrated and losing trust in the police after last week's incident, even handing out NAACP complaint forms to people who came.

DeLand residents said the death of Brown has been a tipping point for the way residents feel about police.

Brown was struck and killed by Harris' car during a pursuit last week.

Volusia County Councilwoman Joyce Cusack called for the meeting after she received several phone calls from upset DeLand residents.

"It's a hot issue, and the feeling and anxiety is high," Cusack said.

The purpose of the meeting, which was attended by members of the NAACP, was to give information to the public about the incident.

It soon turned into a rally after several people shared stories about their run-ins with police.

"If you believe that it's time for a change, than you have to develop that fire in the belly," Cusack said.

Brown's aunt, Carolyn Home, said nothing has been done for too long.

"I think Marlon's death is not in vain," Home said.

Many in the community are hoping Brown's death will be used as a platform to change the relationship they have with police.

Ferrin Harris said he was best friends with Brown for the last 25 years.

He said he wants the police to treat people with respect without treating them like they're just animals.

"Or treating them like they're guilty before proving innocent. Around here, you're guilty," Harris said.

The DeLand police sergeant said they met with community leaders early Monday about the concerns.

The sergeant said officials are still in the midst of their investigation into Harris' action, and said they hope the community can be patient while they find out the facts.

DeLand police are looking over their pursuit policy, but haven't yet said whether Harris violated any of the department's 27 procedures involving pursuits when Brown was killed.