How Cops Who Use Force and Even Kill Can Hide Their Names From the Public

In January 2019, a Dollar Tree employee in Masaryktown, Florida, called 911 after a homeless man stole $70 of beer, wine, candy and cookies. A sheriff’s deputy had little trouble finding him — the man had passed out drunk in a nearby ditch with an open box of Reese’s Pieces.

The deputy took the man to the hospital, where he became irate. With his left wrist handcuffed to the bed, he started swinging his right arm wildly. To get the suspect “under control,” the deputy pepper-sprayed him in the face.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office provided a copy of the use-of-force report to USA TODAY and ProPublica in response to a public records request. Blacked out was one crucial detail: the deputy’s name.

Under a law passed to protect crime victims, the deputy was entitled to privacy, officials said. He’d suffered a battery: The flailing suspect had been attached to a pulse monitor, and the wire hit near the deputy’s shoulder.

Introduced in memory of a young woman murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Marsy’s Law was created to offer crime victims a slate of rights, including protecting them and their families from harassment by their attackers. Read more.