Joined: 26 Jul 2005
|Posted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 9:29 pm Post subject: Deputy reprimanded for park chase
|Pedestrian said he was almost struck by marked cruiser
DEERFIELD BEACH ? It was supposed to be a happy sendoff.
The man of the hour: U.S. Marine Ryan Dalton, 21, destined for Iraq.
One Sunday in May, while family and friends gathered at Quiet Waters Park to say goodbye, mother Debra Dalton chatted with friends Leah Wolf and Casey Heady next to a pathway near the pavilion.
Suddenly, a marked police cruiser in pursuit of a moped "came out of nowhere fast," almost hitting Heady, according to Debra Dalton. "If Casey had stepped back, he would have been hit. [The deputy] flew by too close."
In November, Broward Sheriff's Deputy Fernando Padron, 39, received a written reprimand for his actions that day, according to an Internal Affairs investigative report released in mid-December.
According to agency policy: "Except as required in the line of duty, employees driving assigned vehicles will conform to all state or local laws regulating traffic and parking. Employees will not operate or park assigned vehicles in a way that causes unfavorable comments or reflects discredit upon the Broward Sheriff's Office."
The investigation began in June after Heady, 28, of Coral Springs, filed a formal complaint against Padron, an 11-year veteran.
Padron told investigator Sgt. Daniel Christophers that he was dispatched May 7 to a call involving a reckless moped. The deputy, who insisted his lights were on, said he didn't activate his siren "because of the fear he would hit somebody," the investigator wrote. Padron said his siren might startle a pedestrian into moving closer.
Padron testified the pedestrians were five feet away and that he was traveling slower than 35 mph.
Heady and Dalton testified Padron did not have his lights or siren on when he drove past them at 35 to 40 mph. Heady, who did not see or hear the cruiser until it passed by, said Padron came within a foot of hitting him.
The other witness, Wolf, of Boca Raton, told Internal Affairs the deputy drove "within inches" of Heady.
"[The moped] was certainly less of a danger than the cop who was flying after him," said Debra Dalton, a Pompano Beach resident. "There was absolutely no excuse. It was incredibly bad judgment flying through a park area with kids."
Furious, Heady walked over to tell the deputy he had almost been hit. Heady testified that the deputy's response was "arrogant, unprofessional and very indignant."
The deputy told the investigator he apologized. Heady complained that he did not.
Susannah Bryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-385-7929.