Florida protesters released following demonstrations against exoneration of officers involved in shooting

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More than a dozen protesters were released from a Tallahassee jail Saturday just hours after a demonstration against the exoneration of police in the deaths of three Black men in separate incidents this year.

Police said protest organizers did not have permits for a Saturday afternoon march that drew dozens and descended into chaos after police began arresting demonstrators near the state Capitol.

A Tallahassee police car in front of headquarters. 
(TPD)

Police said they arrested 15 people. Leon County jail records showed most were taken into custody for resisting officers and assembling unlawfully. Nearly all were released from custody after posting bond.

Groups linked to the Black Lives Matter movement called for the demonstration after a Leon County grand jury declined to issue indictments against Tallahassee police officers involved in the shooting deaths of three Black man: Mychael Johnson, Tony McDade and Wilbon Woodard.

Jurors concluded the use of deadly force was justified.

More than 100 protesters took to the streets near the Capitol Saturday afternoon. They were met by a phalanx of law officers from the Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, as well officers from the nearby Capitol and Florida State University. Dozens of officers equipped with shields and battle gear formed lines outside the state Capitol.

For months, activists have staged rallies in Tallahassee to bring attention to excessive police brutality. Last weekend, a confrontation turned awry when a man pulled a gun on protesters. The incident led Leon County to put in place a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

While the grand jury declined to hand down indictments against the police officers, it found areas of concern.

In the March shooting of Mychael Johnson, one officer, Zackri Jones, allegedly yelled, "I'm going to kill you," before shooting him in the back of the head during a violent struggle. The officer fatally shot McDade is also accused of violating police department policy by not activating his body camera.

McDade died after he stabbed and killed a 21-year-old, but there were differing accounts about McDade's confrontation with police in late May.

About a week earlier, police shot and killed Woodard, who police say was armed, after a report of an altercation in a restaurant parking lot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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