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Report: Marco police did not use excessive force in arrest during George Floyd protest

Marco Island police officers did not use excessive force while arresting a demonstrator during a protest in honor of George Floyd on June 3, according to a report commissioned by the city.

Taliya M. Denham, a Chicago resident, was charged with attempted robbery by sudden snatching, a felony, after police found she grabbed or hit a smartphone from the hands of a man who was recording the protest in front of the police station. The phone fell to the pavement, and Denham was handcuffed. 

City Manager Mike McNees ordered the investigation by Franklin Investigations, Inc. after Howard Denham, Taliya's father, wrote the next day in an email to McNees that excessive force was used to detain his daughter.

Floyd's death during a confrontation with Minneapolis police sparked protests nationwide this summer, including in Southwest Florida.

"There is clearly no evidence of any excessive use of force in the arrest of Ms. Denham," the report says.

In case you missed it:Marco Island PD arrests two on Wednesday during protest in honor of George Floyd

And:Marco Island man arrested carrying an AR-15 style rifle as protesters marched

Franklin Investigations charged $4,262 to the Marco Island Police Department  for the investigation, an invoice provided by the city shows.

Taliya Denham did not request fire-rescue services and she was not treated on-scene for any injuries, according to the report issued Monday. There is no indication she was subsequently treated at a hospital.

Howard Denham wrote officers did not read Miranda rights to his daughter after the arrest. The report says Taliya Denham was never interrogated after the arrest; therefore, reading her the Miranda warnings was not required.

Howard Denham wrote the charge of robbery against his daughter was "bogus" because she was not trying to steal the phone.

He also wrote the charges seemed discriminatory because a white man was arrested the same night on the island on a charge of openly carrying a rifle, a misdemeanor, while his daughter, a who self-identifies as Black and Latina, was charged with a felony.

Protesters take to the streets on Marco Island, Fla. on June 3, 2020. Protests have broken out worldwide as part of the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Police accused Steven W. Peterson, a Marco resident, of carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle with 30 live rounds in a parking lot of Marco Town Center on North Collier Boulevard, according to an arrest report.

During an interview with an officer, Peterson said he was “just putting on a show” and that he thought Florida is an “open carry state," according to the report.

The city-commissioned report concludes that it is up to the courts to decide the intent of Taliya Denham's actions and whether the charges are discriminatory.

The report also says Peterson never "posed an armed threat" to her because he was arrested at a different time and place from the protest "well after Ms. Denham's own arrest."

Taliya Denham was arrested at 7:48 p.m. and Peterson was arrested at 8:45 p.m., walking distance from where the protesters finished marching on Bald Eagle Drive and Elkcam Circle, according to arrest reports.

The father also wrote the Facebook Live of the man, identified by authorities as Jason Beal, whose phone fell on the pavement is "filled with threats and hate messages aimed at my daughter and the protesters and we are greatly concerned for her safety." 

The report says there is no evidence Beal aimed any threats or hate messages at Taliya Denham. 

McNees wrote Monday in a news release he was proud of the way Marco police officers conducted themselves with assistance from Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

"This investigation and its final report confirm that Chief Frazzano and her staff took all appropriate measures to keep the public and the protestors safe during this event,” he wrote.

Taliya Denham's next court date is a case management conference hearing on Sept. 3 and Peterson's next court date is on Sept. 14, according to Samantha Syoen, communications director with the State Attorney's Office.

Howard Denham and Taliya Denham declined to comment.

Contact Omar at omar.rodriguezortiz@naplesnews.com, and follow him on Twitter as @Omar_fromPR. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.