Gualtieri: Prosecutor's stance sends wrong message

- After a day of anger directed at Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, she agreed to abide by Gov. Rick Scott's order of a special prosecutor in the case of Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.

Ayala kicked off a firestorm Thursday morning when she said she would not seek the death penalty against Loyd.

"I am required to consider policy, not an individual case. It is my responsibility to make a determination whether or not this is justice for this community," she said.

Orlando police quickly condemned the decision.

"My closure will be when Markeith Loyd is six feet under," said Orlando Deputy Police Chief Robert Anzueto.

RELATED: Prosecutor reassigned after 'no death penalty' comments

Outrage spread to state lawmakers, who held a press conference in Tallahassee.

"Heinous crimes like the one Mr. Loyd committed are the reason our law allows for the death penalty," said State Rep. Bob Cortes (R-Altamonte Springs).

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said there was wide concern among law enforcement as well, that Ayala's decision sent the wrong message.

"It is a complete derelection of duty on the part of that state attorney," he said. "It was a complete slap in the face."

RELATED: Prosecutor says she will not seek death penalty in any case

At first, Gov. Rick Scott demanded Ayala recuse herself. After she refused, the governor signed an executive order, provided for in Florida law that says he can appoint a special prosecutor if, "for any good and sufficient reason, he determines the ends of justice would be best served."

"Any prosecutor, just like any law enforcement officer, (can) make certain decisions in certain boundaries," said Gualtieri. "But when it exceeds those boundaries then something needs to be done."

Gualtieri says there may be cases that aren't cut and dry. But when it's a law enforcement officer in a prone position who is shot four times by someone already on the run, he said Ayala's decision was widely felt, even though her jurisdiction is limited to Central Florida.

RELATED: Scott reassigns prosecutor in cop-killer case

"It shows the lack of value that she has for what these cops across the state and across this country do every single day."

Ayala's decision was applauded by civil rights groups, who said the death penalty has a history of uneven prosecution and that it has not been shown to deter crime.

Ayala said in a statement that she would abide by the governor's choice and decline her right to appeal it.

He appointed Lake County State Attorney Brad King. King has been an outspoken supporter of the death penalty.

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