Pinellas Commissioner Welch on Dawson verdict

08/13/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

About two dozen protesters traveled from St. Petersburg to Tallahassee, demanding a new investigation into the shooting death of teenager Javon Dawson.

The protest came less than 24 hours after Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe exonerated St. Pete Police officer Terence Nemeth in an eight-page report on the death of Dawson.

Nemeth said that Dawson was pointing a gun at him when he shot him dead at a graduation party in June. But critics said Dawson was unarmed, and said it was another case of a black teenager being killed by St. Petersburg Police.

Today, family members of Dawson and members of the Uhuru movement met with Gov. Charlie Crist’s Chief of staff, and were given a report the governor had sent the Florida Department of Law Enforcement asking for a review of McCabe’s findings.

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch is one local official who had previously expressed concern about a possible backlash to the findings by State Attorney McCabe.

Welch wrote a letter last week saying that peace and calm would prevail if, and when a grand jury was seated in the investigation of the death of Javon Dawson. Mayor Rick Baker and several other local officials signed the letter, and it was made public early Monday, just a day before McCabe came down with his findings.

That timing has led some cynics to speculate that Welch, Baker and others were informed exactly when McCabe’s report would be released. But Welch says that it was strictly coincidental.

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