Marion County sheriff responds to claims of excessive-force culture

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair is responding to claims of a culture of violence within his department.

Blair has launched an investigation into excessive-force claims made by former deputies.

The allegations came out during the beating trial of Derrick Price.

Former deputies Trevor Fitzgerald and James Amedie were sentenced Wednesday to a year in jail.

Former deputies Adam Crawford and Cody Hoppel each received 14-month sentences for their roles in the beating of Price, who was a drug suspect.

The former deputies were seen on surveillance camera holding Price down and beating him repeatedly.

“We have to do the right thing and send a message to law enforcement officers, not only here at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, but all over the nation,” said Blair.

Blair said the allegations that the former deputies made in court were unexpected.

“That was news to us, and we were surprised about that,” Blair said.

For that reason, he said he asked the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office to come in and investigate.

“Some of these individuals were partnered up with others. They have supervisors, so I just think it’s important to have an outside agency come in and do a thorough review,” said Blair.

Channel 9’s Myrt Price asked the sheriff about the culture of the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re looking at all the supervisors related to those five, and that’s what the Brevard County Sheriff's office is here to do, and they will report their findings to me,” said Blair.

Blair said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement didn’t want to investigate because it’s not a criminal investigation.