An internal affairs and state attorney’s investigation has prompted several more Marion County sheriff’s deputies to resign last Friday, continuing a pattern that began last year.
Marion County State Attorney Brad King investigated 400 dash cam videos of deputy Eduardo Bustamante, who said:
“Beyond the use of force issues, we found a pattern of behavior in many of the other videos. That pattern involved some, or all, of the following:
-Traffic stops based on trivial, or non-existent, traffic violation;
-Searches based on either a questionable claim that Deputy Bustamante smelled marijuana or “consent” that was illegally obtained;
-Admissions that were obtained after illegal coercion or inducements;
-Police reports that, were either false as to a material fact; or failed to include the pertinent details about the search or admission which would show they were unlawfully obtained.
The most frequent outcome of these cases was an arrest for misdemeanor marijuana charges.”
Bustamante is an award-winning deputy who received the “Sheriff’s Star” because he was “involved in 3 separate incidents where his life was in jeopardy,” according to a 2014 press release.
The report has since been forwarded to the FBI.
The Marion County sheriff’s spokesman Lieutenant Ryan Robbins confirmed that Bustamante resigned after being confronted with the state attorney’s report.
Now all the court cases that Bustamante is scheduled to testify in will not be accepted by the prosecutor’s office.
Not to mention, there were two more Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies that resigned following a report issued by the sheriff’s internal affairs division. Deputies Kimberly Bray and Beth Billings both resigned after internal affairs determined that Bray brought drugs at a party that Billings was hosting.
Apparently, cocaine was the drug of choice for Bray as she successfully brought the drug from Billings’ nephew. Internal affairs got involved after a unidentified deputy notified the department that Bray used drugs at the party.
Following the investigation, Bray refused to take a drug test ordered by the sheriff’s office.
Police parties have been known to get crazy as PINAC reported in December.
In a potent statement, Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair said:
“This type of behavior is completely unacceptable from individuals who [have] sworn to uphold the law and to serve and protect the citizens of Marion County. However, we want to make sure that our employees know that if they are struggling with any kind of personal or emotional issues, we encourage you to seek help before your integrity becomes compromised. Our citizens deserve to be served by deputies who have high integrity and values.”
In a statement, State Attorney King noted:
“We cannot ignore the fact that there have now been over a dozen Marion County deputy sheriffs who have been convicted, indicted, fired, demoted, suspended, or are currently under investigation. There’s been a spell of mistakes by the officers that need to be held accountable, and the sheriff has held them accountable.”
Just last year, several Marion County sheriff’s deputies were fired and indicted for unlawfully beating Derrick Price during an arrest.
Derrick Price was a ringleader sought out in a drug raid. As police centered in on Price’s house, he saw them on his surveillance system and fled on foot. It was not until an hour later, that deputies spotted Price and arrested him.
Price was fully compliant with his hands up, but as outlined by prosecutors, the deputies used unnecessary and unreasonable force. The video is posted below.
Even more alarming, Adam Crawford, who was one of the deputies involved in the beating, deliberately lied on a police report regarding the situation. In his report, deputy Crawford wrote that Price resisted arrest and refused to comply with deputies orders to put his hands behind his back. The video refutes all of those claims.
Regarding the excessive force charges, Sheriff Blair said in a statement:
“The abusive and unprofessional actions they displayed shocked me to my core, and there was absolutely no hesitation for me to immediately inform the Florida Department of Law Enforcement of their actions, to immediately suspend those former deputies without pay and, ultimately, to request their resignation and/or termination.”