Cop-killer convicted of lighter charge in murder of officer, sheriff says it's a 'slap in the face’ to law enforcement

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CLAY COUNTY, FL – The Volusia County Sheriff shared some unsavory sentiments in the wake of the rendered verdict of Othal Wallace, who was reportedly convicted of the lesser manslaughter charges in the 2021 fatal shooting of Dayton Beach Police Officer Jason Raynor.

On the evening of June 23rd, 2021, 26-year-old Officer Raynor was reportedly conducting a patrol of the area of 133 Kingston Avenue when he happened upon Wallace, who was sitting by himself in a vehicle within an apartment complex parking lot.

Bodycam footage showed that Officer Raynor approached the vehicle in which Wallace was sitting and attempted to question him about what he was doing in the area and if he resided in the apartment complex. Wallace was immediately hesitant to answer any questions, instead asking the officer why he was questioning him in the first place.

A very brief back-and-forth ensued, according to bodycam footage, with Officer Raynor instructing Wallace to “sit down” shortly before Wallace opened fire on the officer. Wallace reportedly fled from the scene, and Officer Raynor was discovered a short time later, having suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

A manhunt ensued in the following days, leading to Wallace’s eventual arrest after being discovered hiding out in a literal treehouse in the neighboring state of Georgia. As for Officer Raynor, he remained hospitalized until succumbing to his injuries approximately 55 days after the June 23rd, 2021, shooting.

Following the young officer’s death, Wallace was hit with murder charges, with his trial eventually beginning in September 2023 after a series of delays involving venue changes and the ilk. The prosecution was ultimately seeking the death penalty with the pursuit of a first-degree murder charge, whereas the defense was attempting to foment a self-defense strategy in the case.

However, by the end of the trial, the verdict reached by the jury neither landed squarely in the prosecution or the defense’s favor, with the jury concurring on a conviction of manslaughter against Wallace.

Individuals convicted of manslaughter in Florida can face up to 15 years in prison, however, Wallace was also found guilty of possessing a firearm during the offense, which could see Wallace face up to 30 years in prison upon sentencing.

The verdict reached in the case has spurred quite a bit of criticism, as some viewed Wallace’s actions from the June 2021 incident as being a cold-blooded killing, with Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood being among those very critics.

Sheriff Chitwood took to Twitter on September 16th to lash out at the jury’s decision to convict Wallace of a lesser charge, accusing the jury of sending out a coded message that it’s “open season on law enforcement.”

“The message I take away from this jury is that it’s open season on law enforcement. A lesser charge of Manslaughter for the murder of Daytona Beach Police Officer Jason Raynor is a slap in the face of everyone who puts on a uniform.”

Meanwhile, Wallace’s defense attorney, Tim Pribisco, was admittedly surprised by the outcome, noting that most defendants accused of first-degree murder of a police officer don’t get convicted on lesser charges.

“I'm not familiar with any other case where somebody's been accused of first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and then been found guilty of manslaughter.”

Pribisco added that while the jury’s decision was “extraordinary,” the entire case is “tragic” due to centering around the loss of a human life.

“We don't want to measure this in a win or a loss," he said.

"There's a loss of a life and that's tragic. That's what brought us here. I think the sentiment from our side is that this is an extraordinary outcome under the circumstances and we don't relish in the fact that officer Raynor passed away or the circumstances leading up to it. We are very grateful for the outcome and we believe it's extraordinary.”
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