MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair testified before a grand jury excessive force investigation that he did not see Dustin Heathman’s face during an April arrest.
Heathman is suing the sheriff’s office in federal court after he accused SWAT deputies of beating him up while he was under arrest and not resisting. Heathman had several facial injuries.
Records show Blair’s grand jury testimony in April contradicted what appears on video from a deputy’s body camera. In the video, Blair looks directly at Heathman.
Sheriff Chris Blair, Deputy Chief Fred Latorre and two majors are on paid administrative leave following the indictment.
On Tuesday, Latorre suddenly announced he’s retired. Eyewitness News got a hold of his retirement letter, which said his retirement is necessary and prudent to allow the agency to move forward.
Eyewitness News stopped by Blair’s house Tuesday. A woman who answered the door said Blair is not talking and has not hired a lawyer.
Blair is running for re-election August 30.
WFTV political analyst Rick Foglesong said a criminal indictment does not prohibit Blair from staying in the race, but supporters would be taking a risk by voting for him because of the uncertainty of the outcome of his criminal case.
Contact Kathi Belich for more on this story.
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