Decorated former U.S. Army medic Gregory Lloyd Edwards, 38, witnessed a lot of horror during his years in the service. It affected him profoundly and may have contributed to his death years later in a Brevard County jail. What caused his death, however, was a lack of attention and the failure to follow the sheriff’s office policies in such situations.
While in custody, Edwards got into an altercation at the Brevard County Jail with several corrections officers. During the melee, he was tasered six times, pepper-sprayed, punched and kneed. Within hours, he was dead.
The Video Evidence
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey sought to avoid releasing the surveillance video of the fight and its aftermath. He cited security reasons, stating that releasing the video would allow the public to view the facility’s security systems.
A representative of the Brevard chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says lawyers and prosecutors are often provided videos of jail fights and similar incidents as part of court cases. She alleges nothing was stopping Ivey from releasing the video, and his explanation for refusing to release it was strange.
Ivey finally released the video in November 2020, after settling with the newspaper Florida Today. The publication produced dozens of articles on the Edwards case. In July 2020, the newspaper sued the Sheriff’s Office for the video, after the nation reeled from the footage showing the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. Protestors in Melbourne demonstrated this summer, demanding Ivey release the video.
Taser Darts in His Back
For more than 15 minutes, Edwards is seen alone in his holding cell, gasping for air and writing. Taser darts are stuck in his back. Strapped down in a restraint chair with a sheer white hood over his face to prevent spitting, Edwards appears to yell or cough. The video has no sound.
Jail staff occasionally look into Edwards’ cell, but do nothing as he obviously struggles. While deputies are supposed to monitor him continuously, they instead work on their computers, chat with co-workers, or examine paperwork.
Eventually, a deputy sees that Edwards is no longer moving. A nurse enters the cell, but there is nothing left to do. Edwards is pronounced dead the following day at a local hospital.
“Excited delirium” is the cause of death listed on the Brevard County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report. The report states the death was an accident and was complicated by his “subsequent restraint.”
Severe PTSD Diagnosis
Edwards, who served in Iraq and Kosovo, had been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. During a PTSD episode on December 9, 2018, he assaulted a charity worker in a West Melbourne Walmart parking lot and was arrested. His wife, a fellow veteran, informed the police that her husband had PTSD and that they were seeking help from the VA.
Internal Affairs Investigation
The Florida State Attorney cleared corrections officers of criminal wrongdoing in July 2019. However, an internal affairs investigation reprimanded four officers for not assigning a deputy to monitor Edwards while he was restrained in the chair.
The officers also permitted the spit hood, which would have served as critical evidence, to be thrown out by an inmate given the task of cleaning up the scene. At that point, though, Edwards’ jail cell was a crime scene.
More Family Tragedy
The past two years have been brutal for Edward’s family. Besides the loss of Edwards, they have also endured the death of his 18-month old son in a drowning accident in July 2020.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or died while in custody, we can help. We file federal civil rights lawsuits against prisons, jails, and private prison healthcare companies. You and your family may be entitled to financial compensation. CALL US 866.836.4684 or Connect Online to learn your rights. You can also visit our jail death and injury FAQ page to learn more.