Young Rodney Mitchell was born March 21, 1989, in Sarasota, Florida to the proud parent of Natasha Clemons. From birth, his mother knew there was something special about her first-born son. A couple of years later Natasha gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Brandy Gordon. At the age of 5, Rodney’s mother decided to relocate to Palmetto, Florida to make a better life for her family.
Throughout Mitchell’s elementary, middle, and high school years he was both intelligent and a gifted athlete playing both football and basketball. During Mitchell’s high school years he was an outstanding football cornerback and played shooting guard for the Tiger Basketball Team. After graduating from Palmetto High School, the talented young gifted athlete received a football scholarship to attend New Mexico Military College. From this day, Mitchell made a promise to his mother, “I will not let you down.” From that day forward Mitchell’s life long journey begins. Mitchell attends the New Mexico Military Institute starting as a cornerback even though he was considered a redshirt athlete when he arrived. Mitchell’s journey at New Mexico Military College was short-lived after receiving a scholarship to a Division II University, Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU).
While attending ENMU (also known as “The Greyhounds”), he became a star cornerback and shined both scholastically and athletically. He set numerous records to name a few; he earned All-Super Region selection to his Daktronics All-America selection and First Team Daktronics All-Super Region making him the university’s first All-America pick since 2004. As a junior Mitchell had seven interceptions, tops in the Lone Star Conference’s South Division earning first-team honors, and was the only LSC cornerback selected. He had 72 tackles and led the conference with 23 pass breakups. Mitchell returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown against Texas A&M-Commerce. He blocked a kick and forced two fumbles on the season. Mitchell also received the Don Hansen’s Football Gazette All-Super Region Four First-Team Defense award and made the ENMU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.
More importantly, Mitchell was an exceptional father of one. Mitchell was a proud parent attending college all while raising his son Channing Mitchell whom he dearly loved. After graduating in December 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Mitchell returned to Manatee County to pursue a teaching career and successfully raise his son. Rodney’s dream was to become a role model for young African American youths in the poor neighborhoods of both Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
However, all of Mitchell’s dreams came to a halt on June 11, 2012. The honor roll student, star athlete, “ All-American football star,” and a father, son, and brother was viciously gunned down by two racist Sheriff Deputies after being pulled over for a seatbelt violation while accompanied by his 16 year old cousin. The deputies to blame for the homicide are Deputy Adam Shaw and Sgt., Troy Sasse. Unlike numerous controversial incidents involving these two Sarasota Deputies, this was one life that was innocently taken. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department had an investigation into the incident that was conducted by the State Attorney Earl Moreland, who resides in the area. Moreland has many ties to the community and individuals in the sheriff’s department, which would give the appearance that it would be hard for him to be impartial in his reporting of the facts; therefore investigating themselves and exonerating the officers.
Let’s review the deputies responsible for killing Rodney Mitchell. Deputy Adam Shaw has been on the force approximately two and a half years prior to this incident.
Deputy Shaw is a 2007 graduate from Riverview High School. Deputy Shaw took some classes from USF and he worked at the YMCA as a fitness instructor before being hired at the Sheriff’s Dept. in 2010. It was alleged that one of Shaw’s instructors informed one of the background investigators for the Sheriff Dept. that he was concerned about Shaw’s childish age and maturity. Since his hire in 2010, Deputy Shaw has had multiple complaints in his personnel file from drivers who basically have similar complaints of him pulling them erroneously. As a result of multiple complaints, Shaw was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan, supervised by Sgt. Daniel Tutko, for 90 days in August of 2011. By November of the same year Sgt. Tutko determined that he was performing at an acceptable level and the plan was terminated. Yet seven months later he killed a man for a misdemeanor traffic stop and was vindicated by the state attorney of any wrongdoing.
Sgt. Troy Sasse, the other deputy involved in the fatal killing of Rodney Mitchell was also involved in killing a man for a traffic violation in 2007. This shooting was deemed justified because the victim, in this case, had a gun that was determined it had been fired. However, what are the odds of one deputy being involved in two killings in a five-year period about situations arising from driving violations? The first killing Sgt. Sasse chased the driver for seven (7) miles before justifiably ending his life.
With the history of these two deputies, one wonders how they continue to be employed as deputies. Not only do they remain on the payroll yet assigned to the same area, which caused a negative impact within the Newtown Community. Therefore these deputies are apparent negative influences on one another thus can be considered partners in crime. However, Mitchell’s mother Natasha is determined to get an outside federal investigation to uncover the facts and gain an understanding of what occurred June 11, 2012, on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Hwy 301 resulted in the death of her only son Rodney Mitchell. Furthermore, Mitchell’s mother wants these two lawbreakers to be arrested and tried by our established judicial system. Deputies are to protect and serve not to shoot and kill. You can only wonder; who will be their next victim?