Marion County, Florida (TFC) – In a bizarre story originating in Florida, journalists and activists working with Florida Cop Watch and South Florida Cop Block have repeatedly been denied access to a prisoner because the cops say their state issued IDs apparently aren’t legible.
The activists report that they have tried to gain permission to interview Dustin Heathman repeatedly, but on at least three separate occasions they were denied access because an official at the Marion County Jail said the information on their ID cards wasn’t clear enough. The Fifth Column was provided photos of the IDs and all information was clearly legible.
These aren’t just any police accountability activists. They are investigators that have broke several major stories, including uncovering an incident in which cops left a strip club and allegedly fired shots from the window of a moving car striking a Walgreens. Their success in past investigations is believed to be playing a part in their inability to conduct the interview.
Who is the prisoner?
The incident surrounding the prisoner makes the situation even more bizarre. Dustin Heathman was allegedly involved in a shootout with the Marion County SWAT team. He is facing multiple counts for attempted murder. The SWAT team was deployed to Heathman’s home ostensibly on the grounds of a violation of a probation warrant for a drunk driving charge. The decision to move in on Heathman was made after his father reportedly contacted the department about an alleged theft. Why an armored vehicle was deployed to deal with misdemeanor warrants is still unclear.
It should be noted that Heathman isn’t an angel. He has a criminal record, and by his own admission he initially refused to surrender for what he called a frivolous warrant.
By most versions of the story Heathman opened fire as the SWAT team moved in. The experienced shooter never hit an officer, but repeatedly struck the armored vehicle sitting outside his home. Eventually he surrendered.
Why are police accountability activists investigating this case?
Just when you thought the situation couldn’t become stranger, it does. The cops made statements that he was attempting to commit suicide by cop. Heathman adamantly denies this. The cops attempted to paint him as a Nazi because some items in his home were marked with a Swastika. It turns out that in addition to being a firearms collector, Heathman collected historical military equipment. The items had Swastikas on them because they were made 60 years ago by the Nazis. The police said Heathman’s injuries were the result of flying glass. Flying glass doesn’t typically result in a fractured eye socket.
From one of the pages supporting him:
“He surrendered, was handcuffed, and then severely beaten by several MCSO officers. He suffered a fractured eye socket, a damaged ear, and a concussion.”
This is where it gets really interesting. His supporters claim he never fired at officers. According to the police roughly 50 rounds were fired at a distance of less than thirty yards. Not a single officer was killed. Not a single officer was injured.
What do we know?
We know that a SWAT Team was deployed for some unknown reason. We know that the department misled reporters. We know that Heathman’s injuries are not consistent with the injuries suggested by the police. We know that shortly after the incident, five Marion County Deputies were suspended without pay after being accused of excessive force in an unrelated arrested. We know that the department is denying access to a group of investigators that have proven their ability to uncover police corruption.
The Fifth Column is now making its own attempts to contact Heathman.