As 200 people rallied against police brutality in Jacksonville, Fl., a medical examiner’s report said police didn’t use excessive force last month against a man who died in the Duval County jail, the Florida Times-Union reports. Ezra Jones, one of two black men to die in police custody in December, was being held in a restraint chair after his arrest for sleeping on a sidewalk. Police say he was put in the restraints because he had been belligerent. The medical examiner’s report says Jones died of a cocaine-induced heart attack in jail, not because of the restraints or any force by police.
Jones, 29, was the second death of a black man in police custody within three days. Sammie Lee Evans, 49, died of a broken neck after a confrontation with police over drinking a beer in public. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are investigating whether Evans’ or Jones’ civil rights were violated. “The degree to which police brutality occurs in Florida is the worst I’ve seen in 50 years,” said Adori Obi Nweze, NAACP Florida State Conference president. “We’re going to uncover any act they’ve done to anyone.” Speakers called for creation of a citizens’ police review board with the power to subpoena people who may have been involved with an excessive force case. They also said the racial composition of the police department is woefully low and hardly reflects the diversity of the Jacksonville community. Statistics from 2002 show that white males made up 62 percent of police force, down from 65 percent in 1996.