A colleague of mine brought a case to my attention because it touched them so much. In December 2015, the obituary below came out in the PNJ. It is a solemn obituary that garnered national attention. It is for a forgotten man with an unremarkable life, who was virtually ignored wholly by society.
1956 - 2015 Obituary Condolences GalleryDarrell Evans- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/pensacolanewsjournal/obituary.aspx?pid=176761603#sthash.w7nIWAKi.dpuf
Darrell was born on November 13, 1956 and sometime in November 2015 he drew his last breath. It might even have been on his birthday, but probably not considering the level of decomposition when his body was found. Darrell died alone in the small house he was fortunate enough to afford to rent with his disability check. At least he wasn't homeless. But he was impoverished. I represented him on a legal matter. Who I am is not important. Darrell had family, but no one claimed his body. I hope the failure to claim his body had more to do with financial concerns then the absence of affection. Darrell grew up poor and was poor all his life. I learned of Darrell's death when I went to his house after he had not responded to my communications in several weeks. Perhaps I should have gone sooner, but there had been other times during our relationship that he was out of pocket for extended periods of time. When I arrived at his house there was a young man in a hazmat suit removing everything from the home. He had on a breathing apparatus, I did not. The stench told me everything. Darrell was not a well man, so his death was not overly surprising. However, I know he didn't want to die and I know all he wanted from the lawsuit was to get enough money to perhaps buy the tiny house he died in. I can't tell you a lot about Darrell. During my representation we got cross ways every now and then because of our mutual stubbornness. He was a smart man, but with little formal education. Based upon my beliefs I know he had a soul. I hope his soul is somewhere content. I wrote this because I just did not feel that the way he died, which was so ignominious, should be the last word. It's a for whom the bell tolls kind of thing. Rest in peace Darrell.
One of the reasons this was such a sympathetic case is because the man who wrote the obituary was seemingly the only friend he had in this world—his attorney. In digging into the lawsuit that this attorney was referring to help Mr. Evans not die penniless, was a lawsuit against Sheriff David Morgan “in his official capacity”, for auto negligence. Naturally this got my attention.
As I researched, I found in the guestbook of his obituary the reference to Mr. Evans, the following comment:
December 9, 2015
Rest in paradise, Darrell. He was a very caring guy. He would call my mom's house or drop bye. We never really knew his name we always just the man in the yellow house or Jacksonville. I would pick up items for him. He loved sandwiches from the Yellow store. He loved seafood especially shrimp, crabs, & oysters. He was a great conversationalist. My grandson would call him Moses on the bike, because he rode a bike and carried a big stick. Rest in ParadiseLou Adams, FL
He rode a bike and this is an auto negligence case. I recalled the article about Morgan hitting a bicyclist last year. Was this the guy?
But in looking at the lawsuit, it was filed prior to July 24th; it was filed on April 5, 2015. So this is a different bicyclist. I did my due diligence because there are times when Morgan is sued for activities of the deputies. He is the ultimate person legally responsible for them. However, no other names appear on the complaint. Also the attorney on the case is not a county attorney. It is not Gerald Champagne or Debra Little, the attorneys who typically handle “official capacity” cases. Also it appears Morgan was avoiding service to be deposed, much like he did in the Daniel Levitan case.
The implications here are clear. David Morgan hit cyclist Evans in his county cruiser, but not while “officially” on duty. My next question is: did Evans's death in any way result from the accident? That is unknown because of the way he died. This particular case evokes memories of another black man who held the fate of elected county officials in his hands, Willie Junior. Could this be as nefarious? Is it possible that Morgan’s future political aspiration was complicated by this lawsuit?
Regardless of any of that, the fact that this man died the way he did is shameful. Alone, penniless and unclaimed. So many questions linger. Could a settlement with Morgan have prevented his death? But what would the repercussions have been if that happened? One thing is clear; Morgan got off easy because of this man’s death and in the manner of his death. Coincidence? It has been said in the political arena of Escambia County, there are no coincidences. Anybody remember the dead canaries?