by Eric Hunter, SF Bay View Oakland Bureau
On June 24, 2021, the Daytona Beach Police Department launched a multi-state manhunt operation on a man named Ozone, aka Othal Wallace. He is being accused by law enforcement agencies of shooting a police officer who apparently made an unlawful attempt to apprehend Ozone while he was getting out of his car.
This incident was recorded on the police officer’s body camera. On a 29-second clip, the officer can be seen approaching Ozone in a very aggressive manner, asking him: “Where are you going? Do you live here?” Then the officer repeats, “Do you live here, yes or no?” while he grabs Ozone by the shoulders. The body camera footage starts to get shaky and blurry because of all the activity taking place.
The officer was said to have been conducting a “proactive patrol” at the time the incident occurred. But what is displayed in the body camera footage was the common episode of racial profiling and fascist harassment. The officer did not lawfully present himself as a peace officer to a citizen. He didn’t tell Ozone that he was under arrest or being detained before he grabbed him.
That is a violation of Ozone Wallace’s Fourth Amendment constitutional rights to protection against illegal search and seizure. The reports in the mainstream media say that the officer suffered from a gunshot wound in his face. Apparently, Ozone fled the scene safely and evaded.
Law enforcement agencies in the states of Florida and Georgia activated the Blue Alert law on Ozone Wallace. “The state issues this type of an alert after a police officer has either been killed, injured, or has gone missing and the suspect is not in custody and poses an immediate threat to other officers,” according to a NBC-2 story. The Daytona Beach Police Department offered a $100,000 bounty for his arrest, and an “anonymous donor” pledged another $100,000 on Friday, bringing the bounty to $200,000 for Ozone’s arrest.
The corporate press has portrayed Othal Wallace as an inhumane person, demonizing and dehumanizing his character to the public. It got to the point where the Daytona Beach police chief unprofessionally and emotionally described him as a “coward” in his post on public social media platforms when they still have no visible proof that Ozone actually shot the officer. The officer could have shot himself. Until he has been proven without any reasonable doubt to be guilty in a court of law, it is wrong to paint Ozone as guilty before he even has the chance to be proven innocent.
Ozone Wallace was captured June 26, 2021, on Saturday morning in a tree fortress in the woods near Atlanta, Georgia. Officials reported that they found multiple flashbangs, rifle plates, body armor, two rifles, two handguns, and several boxes of ammunition on him, which were seized at some point during the arrest.
Ozone appeared calm, collected, at peace, on point and disciplined when they arrested him. The police chief says that Ozone told them, “You guys know who I am. You know what I’m capable of. It could have been a lot worse.” Ozone denies that he said any such thing. This shows how psychologically traumatized and emotionally driven these police officers are.
Ozone Wallace has the spirit of a warrior and a freedom fighter. He has Haitian blood surging through his veins, and the tradition of rebellion against racism is a part of his heritage and tradition. If you ask anyone who actually knows Ozone, they’ll tell you he’s a caring father and a family man or that he is a craftsman, and that he is absolutely dedicated to the Liberation of all Black people across the globe.
Ozone has been on the frontlines of armed demonstrations to advocate self-defense against racist terrorism throughout the entire pandemic. He participated in search and rescue missions of suspected victims of human trafficking. He also helped reconstruct communities damaged by hurricane disasters.
The mainstream media attempts to use his affiliation with Black paramilitary organizations as grounds to sway the opinion of the public and the jury against him. This exposes that he is being targeted because of his political beliefs.
Black independent media outlets must highlight his work and contribution to the Black Liberation struggle to keep the people informed of the true character of anyone who dares to stand up for our people against injustice.
The footage on the officer’s body camera shows that Ozone was not the aggressor. It was the officer who approached Ozone and grabbed him on the shoulders. Questions like, “Where are you going?” or “Do you live around here” are common phrases of racial profiling, police harassment and colonial occupation.
Every Black man from the hoods of America – whether you’re from Oakland, LA, Philly or New Orleans – can relate to this situation. Colonized peoples from third world countries all over the world experience the same type of encounters. This could happen to any of us.
In the language of a lynching, they want to preserve the prestige of the state and discourage Black people’s will to defend themselves against unlawful apprehension by police.
The state of Florida also has the stand your ground law that protects citizens’ right to use deadly force in self-defense when someone invades your personal space in a threatening manner. Under this law, people have no duty to retreat. All we can see on the body camera is a possible retreat.
On Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, Officer Jason Raynor succumbed to his wounds and died. The prosecutors boosted Ozone’s charges from attempted murder to first-degree murder. They are now seeking to give Ozone the death penalty.
The family of the deceased police officer is also filing a $5 million lawsuit against Othal Wallace for wrongful death. The attorney for the family, Chip Bichler, says that they are going after Ozone’s criminal defense fundraiser page. He says, “I’m not sure if it’s gonna be collectable but we want to make a statement here.”
This is the language of a lynching. They want to preserve the prestige of the state and discourage Black people’s will to defend themselves against unlawful apprehension by police.
He has been on 48-hour lockdown, coming out for one hour every two days!
There is not enough proof or evidence that Ozone ever shot the officer. The body camera footage shows that the officer was the aggressor in the incident. Jason Raynor was making an unlawful arrest, illegal search and seizure, and unlawful use of force.
During Ozone’s incarceration, they have taken his belongings, including his underwear, stamps, envelopes and even his Bible. His commissary has been limited and he has been on 48-hour lockdown, coming out for one hour every two days!
Back in the 1960s wave of the Black Liberation Struggle, the Free Huey Campaign became a unifying call to action. Huey P Newton, the cofounder and minister of defense of the Black Panther Party for Self-defense, was charged with the murder of a police officer in streets of Oakland.
This case of Ozone is very similar to the case of Huey P Newton back in the 1960s. The power of the people’s political pressure was proven in the victory of the Huey P Newton trial. If we support this brother Ozone at this moment, we can gain another victory.
For all those who say it’s time to fight back against police harassment, brutality and terrorism of the Black community, now is the time to rally our support around a brother who’s paying the price of sacrifice as an example of resistance. If we acknowledge and support the legacy of freedom fighters from the past generation, let’s keep that same energy for the soldiers of this generation who are continuing the struggle.
Journalist Eric Hunter (E De Ref), an Oakland native, is Minister of Public Relations for the Black Riders Liberation Party and Co-Editor of African Intercommunal News Service. He writes for Black New World Media and the SF Bay View’s Oakland Bureau headed by JR Valrey. Hunter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.