Florida’s new state attorney refuses to use the death penalty — and the cops are furious
Central Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala said she would not seek the death penalty in any cases during her term of office, facing backlash from an Orlando police chief and from Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).
During a Thursday news conference, Ayala announced that she has “determined that [capital punishment] is not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice.” Ayala specified that she would not seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, who stands accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police Lieutenant.
According to WFTV, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he was “furious” with Ayala’s decision.
Mina told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday, “If there was any case for the death penalty, this is the case. I’ve seen the video, so I know the state attorney has seen the video of [Loyd] standing over defenseless and helpless Lt. Debra Clayton and executing her.”
Shawn Dunlap, who is the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 25, echoed Mina’s sentiments. He told the Sentinel, “The death penalty is the law of the land in the State of Florida and I believe that if there ever was a case for its use this would be the one.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida applauded Ayala’s announcement in a tweet, writing, “We stand with her!”
— ACLU of Florida (@ACLUFL) March 16, 2017
Ayala made her announcement the same week that Gov. Scott signed a law “fixing” the state’s death penalty legislation with a requirement that juries reach a unanimous decision with sentencing.
Upon hearing Ayala’s decision, Scott issued an executive order to have her removed from prosecuting Loyd, instead moving to appoint State Attorney Brad King, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
In a statement released by his office, Scott said, “Earlier today, I called on State Attorney Ayala to immediately recuse herself from this case. She informed me this afternoon that she refuses to do that. She has made it clear that she will not fight for justice and that is why I am using my executive authority to immediately reassign the case.”
The statement read as follows:
Florida’s death penalty is deeply flawed. Not only have innocent men and woman been sentenced to death, but individuals with crippling mental impairments have also faced capital punishment. It is refreshing to see a prosecutor acknowledge these troubling defects and commit to halting death penalty prosecutions in light of these problems. Aramis Ayala should be commended for her commitment to justice, fairness, and the inherent dignity of all human beings.
Mina told the Sentinel that regardless of Ayala’s announcement, police are “going to continue to risk their lives to keep this community safe. If anything, it just gives them more resolve to fight crime and protect this community.”
As of March 16, 2017, there are 381 people on Florida’s death row.