• Former Marion County deputies sentenced in excessive force case


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Four former Marion County deputies were sentenced Wednesday after they were caught on video beating a drug suspect.

    Authorities said James Amidei, Trevor Fitgzerald, Adam Crawford and Cody Hoppel were assisting with a drug-related search warrant in 2014 at a home in the Marion Oaks neighborhood when the incident happened.

    Fitzgerald and Amidei were sentenced to one year and one day, and Crawford and Hopple received 14 months.  

    A fifth suspect, Jesse Terrell, went to trial and was found not guilty, despite all four of the other deputies testifying against him. 

    Amidei and Fitzgerald were not seen hitting Derrick Price, but admitted to lying during the investigation and doing nothing to stop the attack.  

    Amidei said he apologized to the suspect and he apologizes to those in the community who looked up to him. 

    Reports say investigators found out about a drug ring after a confidential informant recorded a deal with Price. A few weeks later, deputies raided the house as Price ran outside, the reports said.

    A K-9 tracked Price down several blocks away, where several officers tried to handcuff the suspect. One officer said he "could clearly hear the deputies telling the defendant to stop resisting."

    "The actions I viewed on the video were egregious and not in keeping with standards by which we operate at the Marion County Sheriff's Office. Anytime there are actions that compromise the integrity of the badge, it will be dealt with swiftly and vigorously,” Sheriff Chris Blair said in a news release.

    Officials said an outside agency will review every case the convicted deputies handled. 

    Authorities said that when executing the search warrant, they seized cocaine, prescription pills, several weapons, four cars and one motorcycle.

    Hoppel pleaded guilty in a separate beating case. 

    During the Terrell trial, allegations were made about additional excessive force incidents. Officials said a team from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office will investigate those claims. 

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