Santa Rosa County, Fla :A Chapter in the Good Ole Boy Playbook
316.061 Crashes involving damage to vehicle or property.—(1) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting only in damage to a vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such crash or as close thereto as possible, and shall forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at, the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s.316.062. A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, $5 shall be added to a fine imposed pursuant to this section, which $5 shall be deposited in the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund.316.062 Duty to give information and render aid.—(1) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall give his or her name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, and shall upon request and if available exhibit his or her license or permit to drive, to any person injured in such crash or to the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle or other property damaged in the crash and shall give such information and, upon request, exhibit such license or permit to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash and shall render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.316.027(2)(a) The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property which results in injury to a person other than serious bodily injury shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and shall remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. A person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
While these are no brainers to most functioning adults, evidently if you have a vested interest in covering up a crime, then you will pull out the Good Ole Boy Playbook and do something like what happened in to Mr. Randy Jones. Here’s Jones’s story.
On January 14,2017 Randy Jones and his wife were involved in a vehicle crash. The crash occurred in Santa Rosa County within the city limits of Milton Florida. The at-fault vehicle was driven by Brenda Roe. Roe was exiting a parking lot of a local business. She pulled into the roadway of Hwy 90 and into the path of the vehicle operated by Jones. The collision caused the vehicle of Roe to overturn to its side. Both, Brown and his wife had the dashboard impact their lower legs. Airbags deployed, and thankfully, both were wearing seatbelts, which likely reducing additional injuries.
Jones, first confirmed his wife was not critically injured and did not need his immediate attention to sustain life. He exited his vehicle and went to the overturned vehicle operated by Roe. Roe was found on the passenger side of the vehicle, sitting upright, and fortunately not seriously injured. She was helped from the mangled crashed vehicle. By this time, witnesses had arrived to assist with further efforts to care for those involved in the crash. Patrol Officer Kimberly Aguiar arrived on scene with other officers to provide assistance, required by law enforcement. Also, on scene was Patrol Officer Dalyn Wilson. Jones and his wife were transported from the scene to a local hospital for medical treatment required for sustained injuries caused from the vehicle crash. Officer Aguiar remained at the scene to complete her duties on scene and later, responded to the hospital to further investigate with interviewing Jones and his wife. Officer Wilson was also assisting during this time.
After arriving at the medical facility, where Jones and his wife were being treated, the officers spoke to Jones and provided a card with a case number. Jones inquired about the driver of the other vehicle. Jones believed the driver had been seriously injured because the impact was violent, and a full side collision had caused the vehicle to roll over. Jones believed that the driver had a head injury because of what he had observed at the scene when offering aid. Officer Aguiar stated she did not have any information on the other driver because that driver had left the scene. Jones questioned this fact and tried to get verification of what that meant exactly. Jones believed she could have wondered away, because of the suspected head injury, and could need immediate medical assistance. Officer Wilson interjected and informed Jones that Roe left the scene in a vehicle. Officer Wilson further explained he did not need to worry because she was with “a high-level police officer”. Jones challenged this statement.
Jones began to feel that this process was not one to be trusted. Jones requested the Florida Highway Patrol be called to investigate this incident. Jones believed the action of a “high-level” police officer arriving at the scene of a vehicle crash removing an involved party was not normal operating procedure. Jones had also expressed concern about the sobriety of Roe and was concerned there was improper assistance being given to Roe. Stating his concern to the officers caused Jones to be threatened with law enforcement action. He was accused of hindering an investigation because of his acknowledgement, of a “high-level” police offer aiding an escape, of a suspect appearing improper. Jones realized that he would not make progress with this concern at the time and nothing further was done to seek FHP for assistance.
Later, through public record requests Jones did discover a recording of a dispatcher calling FHP. The conversation was derogatory when describing Jones and FHP concluded they would not respond based on the information provided by the dispatcher. The public record requests also uncovered that Officer Aguiar had been less than honest with Jones concerning the information she had gathered about Roe. Aguiar had contacted Roes husband in another state to inform him of the accident that Roe had been involved in before contacting Jones at the hospital. It is difficult to believe Jones had been provided truthful information from the officers at the hospital. One would struggle how an officer would know how to contact the husband of Roe, in another state, if her identity was not known to them.
Days after the incident Jones was provided a copy of the accident report prepared by Officer Aguiar. The questions created by, the less than professional investigation conducted, Milton Police Department were not answered in this report. The report supported that there was clear indication that preferential treatment given to Roe because of that “high-level” police official. It is apparent that the investigation relied more on appeasing Jones than on the task of gathering facts. The main concern of Milton Police Department was to stop Jones from asking questions that they did not want to answer. Understandably, Jones had been irritated with the unprofessional conduct that was displayed by the officers performing the investigation. Jones was aware the facts concerning the traffic crash were secondary to the effort to protect a suspect with a “high-level” police friend.
An internal investigation was conducted concerning this incident by Milton Police Department. Capt. Michael Cline is identified as the investigator assigned to complete the investigation. Capt. Cline should have the law enforcement skills required to complete the task of investigating the complaint of Jones. Reading the investigation, obtained through a public records request, could not be used as evidence to support that Capt. Cline possesses any substantial investigative skills. One with investigative skills would cringe during the laborious task of reading this document. Capt. Cline would be described as either incompetent or complicit to a cover up of wrong doing.
Florida law provides an entire chapter in the statutes dedicated to how to conduct an Internal Investigation. It is one of the few laws that give a detailed explanation of how to properly complete an investigation, if tasked with the duty to complete an investigation, concerning a matter to which this law is applicable. Capt. Cline failed to meet the requirements of the law in several areas. His investigation obviously avoided the tough details that would have given Jones the answers he requested.
One fact that was discovered is there was a “high-level” police official involved. That person was identified as Jim Spencer. Spencer is the Chief Deputy at Santa Rosa Sheriffs Department. It was confirmed through the investigation that not a single officer involved in the crash investigation ever attempted to question Chief Deputy Spencer about his involvement. Chief Deputy spencer arrived on scene and became involved in an incident that he should have never been involved in because of a personal relationship. The Capt. Cline investigation indicates that conduct of Spencer was ignored because of his position with SRCSO. Had the average person conducted themselves as did Spencer law enforcement action would have been taken. Spencer was not even questioned. Had Spencer been questioned he would have had to admit he knew his actions were not legal. If a victim in an emergency room can be threatened with arrest for calling a legitimate state law enforcement agency for assistance with a bogus investigation, it is reasonable to believe, removing a possible suspect from a crime scene would be illegal. Unless you are in Milton and the perpetrator is the Chief Deputy of SRCSO.
Capt. Cline not only failed to uphold his oath of office, he failed as a leader to the officers involved. He taught the officers a lesson that it is acceptable to bend, twist, or even lie if it makes life easier. But this is basically saying one person’s life/comfort is MORE IMPORTANT than the other. While the reason doesn’t matter, in this case it was a “high-level” police official being protected, the moral of the actions by Capt. Cline is that putting political/personal motives ahead of the truth is acceptable. That is a great plan and works well, unless you are Mr. Jones and his wife.
Thousands upon thousands of medical bills accumulated because of the actions of Ms. Roe. It would be unfair to say this accident happened because Ms. Roe was impaired. There is no substantial proof she was under the influence; however, a poor investigation was conducted, and she was protected from the scrutiny that she should have been subjected to, after the crash. Mr. Jones can only play by the rules because he doesn’t have the luxury of making a couple of calls effectively having two law enforcement agencies create “facts” that help him prove the possible negligence of Ms. Roe, he believes exists. If Mr. Jones did have those resources available to him and treated Ms. Roe in the same manner he was treated, he could make up whatever story he wanted and call it fact. I wonder if Capt. Cline ever looked at this matter from that view point. I wonder if Chief Deputy Spencer would be as indifferent to a similar situation if it were his family being wronged.
The investigation conducted by Capt. Cline used a witness statement given by an officer that supports the corruption suspected in this case. Officer Dalyn Wilson is named on the Brady List. If you do not know what that is, be assured it was not for stellar law enforcement abilities.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in 1963's Brady v. Maryland, required prosecutors to disclose any exculpatory evidence — that is, evidence favorable to arguing innocence — to the defense, including information about witnesses' credibility.
I am certain that Mr. Jones would appreciate any help that could be offered on how to expose this miserable situation and that might help remedy any chance of more innocent citizens being exposed to corruption by officials in our community. We have seen incidents occur time and again in our local law enforcement agencies. A reasonable person would assume our States Attorney’s Office would take one of the issues to task. That has not happened yet, no matter how egregious the officer, and there is not any indication the pattern will change. Hopefully the public will become a voice that is loud enough to gain the attention of a power strong enough to stop the abuse that is becoming more common.
I am sure there will be a suggestion that Sheriff Bob Johnson implement to remedy future actions. Good suggestion, except, Sheriff Johnson is ALREADY aware of the issue and distanced himself at the first sign of his Chief Deputy being involved. There must be a solution that can be found. We have seen Escambia County fall to corruption. Maybe Sheriff Johnson will see that his path is parallel to Sir David’s in the early years. No honorable law enforcement officer would want to be initiated into that club. Here are my 2 cents for Sheriff Johnson: Step up to do what is right. You could avoid the public losing faith in your officers, your badge, your position and you could be example of success by doing what is right. That is true leadership.