CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Former Clay Sheriff Darryl Daniels released a statement on Friday, hours after a jury found him not guilty on charges of tampering with evidence, attempted destruction of evidence and five counts of lying to law enforcement.
His statement reads:
“I would like to thank the jury for their service and thank all of the people of Florida for their support during this challenging time for me and for my family. The abuse and overreach that I have had to endure over the past three years is an example of what happens when sectors of our government go unchecked. If this abuse of power by government entities can happen to a duly elected sheriff, then it can happen to anyone. I pledge to all Floridians and people from across the country who offered their support during these trying times, that I will continue to fight for them to ensure that we all receive equal justice under the law. This abuse cost me my job that I loved and it cost Clay County their sheriff. Similar to what we are seeing happen to former President Donald Trump and now with the Biden Administration working to hire 87,000 new IRS agents to harass and abuse Americans across the country, this type of government overreach has to stop. I look forward to identifying ways to continue to serve the people and working to ensure that the government works for them and not to persecute them.”
A jury on Thursday returned a verdict of not guilty on all seven counts in Daniels’s trial after prosecutors rested their case, and in a surprise move, Daniels’ defense team also rested -- without calling any witnesses. Daniels opted not to take the stand in his own defense.
He was accused of destroying evidence and lying to investigators to cover up his long-term affair with a former corrections officer but had always maintained his innocence.
In 2020, Sheriff Daniels said, “One thing that is very suspicious to me is the fact that within days of a primary election, the powers that be specifically the state attorney’s office has decided that today is the day that they will execute their plan.”
Michelle Cook won with 37% of the vote to Daniels 29%.
Generally speaking, Daniels could go back to court to clear his name, by suing for defamation of character. Local attorney, Shannon Schott, not affiliated with the case explained how that could work.
“In this case you wouldn’t be able to sue the prosecutor or the judge necessarily because of immunity for those individuals but there could circumstances where a law enforcement agency if they were acting in bad faith could be sue for negligence or some sort of intentional tort,” Schott said.
As for Daniels, no one knows his next step but he has eluded to working to protect the community from being misused.