The sheriff was meeting with Chief Deputy Larry Aiken and Commander Eric Haines when all three received pages. First that an officer was down, then within seconds three officers were down.
The deputies had responded to a 911 call by Jackie Rosenbloom that her ex-boyfriend Philip Monier had burst into her home on Baywind Circle. Upon arrival the deputies heard Rosenbloom scream and entered the house. Monier fired the first shots and the officers returned fire.
Rosenbloom was hit as were the three officers. Deputy Jeremy Cassady was critically wounded when the shots hit behind his bulletproof vest. Monier then dragged Rosenbloom into the bathroom and turned on the bath water.
Deputy Josh Hendershott entered the home after hearing the shots, without knowing where the gunman was located, and pulled Cassidy outside.
“Chief Aiken deployed SWAT,” Morgan said. “We also deployed the Bearcat which was able to drive right up to the house.”
Sgt. Ted Roy was able to carry Rosenbloom from the house and within 15 minutes Monier surrendered.
Sheriff Morgan said that Monier, who has a felony conviction in Tennessee, was covered with blood and claimed to be wounded.
“What he didn’t know is when you get an ambulance in Escambia County, we’re going to send a couple deputies with you,” Morgan said. “He wasn’t going to slip out of the hospital. When he got him to the hospital and they cleaned him up, it was all the victim’s blood on him.”
As of publication, Deputy Cassady was still in critical surgery but appeared to be recovering. Sheriff Morgan was touched by the outpouring of support for the wounded officer and his family.
“We have kindness in the face of evil,” Morgan said.
A benefit fund has been established to assist the Cassady Family. The “Benefit Account for Jeremy Cassady” is available through Gulf Coast Community Bank, and individuals interested in donating to the Cassady family can visit any of the five Gulf Coast Community Bank locations in the area.
MODERN DAY SLAVERY The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a human rights organization based in Immokalee, Fla., stopped October 17 by the University of West Florida with their mobile Modern Day Slavery Museum, an exhibit meant to raise awareness about 21st century slavery in Florida as well as gain support for the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food.
Their effort has called nationwide for large grocery distributors to agree to a code of conduct in their supply chain of Florida-grown tomatoes that guarantees workers are being treated humanely, as well as a one-cent-per-pound pay raise that goes directly to the workers who pick the tomatoes. Their current aim? Florida’s largest corporation, Publix Grocery Stores.
So far, the campaign has reached agreements with leading food retailers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Whole Foods.
“Publix is refusing to do these very simple things we are asking them to do, despite the fact that they claim to be a good force in the community,” said Oscar Otzoy, member of CIW. “We are calling on them to step up and take responsibility for the conditions that farm workers are facing.”
What conditions are the workers facing? In a 2008 report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that “poverty among farm workers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees.” Unlike most professions which are covered under labor laws dating back to the New Deal, farm workers also have no right to overtime pay, no right to employment benefits, and no right to collectively bargain with their employers.
Those wanting to help the CIW can sign Publix manager letters or can send pre-made post cards directly to the CEO of Publix. To get this information or for any particular questions call Lee Pryor at (850) 380-9761 or e-mail the Progressive Student Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, visit ciw-online.org.
SHERIFF AND JURY POOLS Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan also gave the IN an exclusive interview on the controversy concerning him greeting prospective jurors.
Last week area criminal attorneys along with Public Defender James Owens asked Chief Judge Terry Terrell to keep Morgan away from prospective jurors. They believe that his appearances may unfairly sway potential jurors to law enforcement’s side in criminal cases. Judge Terrell responded to the request by letter stating that he had spoken with Sheriff Morgan, who agreed to discontinue his greetings to jury assemblies.
David Morgan began greeting prospective jurors in the parking lot across from the Pensacola Civic Center three years ago when he was running for sheriff. He would get up at 5:15 a.m. to be there by 6:30 a.m. so that he got speak to them as they boarded the trolley. Once elected, he continued doing it.
“I say to them is thank you for answering your jury summons and doing your civic duty,” Morgan said. “I tell that I know this may be disruptive to their business day, but I can’t overemphasize how important they are to the judicial process.”
It has been customary for Judge Terrell and Clerk of the Court Ernie Lee Magaha to address the jury assemblies at the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building and thank them for their service. According to Morgan, about two months ago he was asked by Deputy Clerk Lisa Bernau to address a jury assembly when Judge Terrell wasn’t available.
Both Magaha and Bernau confirmed this and said Morgan began addressing the jury pools at Mr. Magaha’s request and continued to do so up to the week before the trial of Patrick Gonzalez. In a telephone interview, Magaha pointed out that the sheriff is the executive officer of the court and there was a time when the sheriff’s deputies personally delivered the jury summons.
Morgan said that his message was simple. He told them, “That what they do is truly what kings, dictators and tyrants fear which is to place justice in the hands of the people. Next to service in the military and voting, nothing is more important than service on a jury.”
He added, “I inform them that today they have more power than the sheriff of Escambia County because they serve in judgment of their fellow man. Today they are the law. And that’s all I say.”
Morgan believes for anyone to claim such statements are made to influence a juror is disingenuous.
“Here’s why,” Morgan said. “I understand the convictions may reviewed. Aren’t we also going to review the acquittals? Shouldn’t we be fair and balanced about this?
“Is there a chance that someone in that jury pool had a son, daughter or someone that they thought had been falsely arrested? Or in their background they had a DUI and don’t like police officers? Couldn’t you equally argue that my being there could have the opposite effect on a prospective juror?”
He said, “I just don’t get it and the feedback that I’m getting from the public is that you’ve got to be kidding me.”
BP MAKES OVER BILLION The oil giant responsible for the worst oil disaster in U.S. history still showed a net profit of $1.79 billion in its third quarter despite an additional pre-tax charge of $7.7 billion over April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and its clean-up.
In the second quarter, BP reported a $17.2 billion loss due to the environmental disaster. The third quarter of 2009, the company reported a profit of $5.34 billion. According to company officials higher oil prices helped BP recover since July 1. However, they still cannot estimate the total cost of the disaster, which to date is near $40 billion.
IN HOT PURSUIT This Saturday, Nov. 6, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office will hold their third annual In Hot Pursuit 5K on Pensacola Beach to benefit Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches.
Best of the Coast winner Sandshaker Lounge will host the post race party and beach restaurants and bars have special prices and deals throughout the day for runners who present their run numbers.
The run gets underway at 8 a.m. at the Pavillion on Pensacola Beach. Register online at active.com, download a form at escambiaso.com or come by Running Wild Thursday or Friday evening.