Monday, December 30, 2013

SAPD Wins Conviction, 100 Day Jail Term, For Anti-Gay Battery With Bug Spray At Home Depot

Republican St. Johns County County Commission candidate MERRILL PAUL ROLAND, 59, spent Christmas in the St. Johns County Jail. He checked in to St. Johns County Jail on December 24, 2013. He won't be allowed out until April 3, 2014. ROLAND will spend the entire winter as an inmate of the St. Johns County Jail, whose published inmate rules allow viewing only one (1) television station: PBS.

A registered Republican, a perennial sjx-time political candidate, a St. George Street pirate entertainer-activist and an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) disabilities access activist, MERRILL PAUL ROLAND has repeatedly run for office.

MERRILL ROLAND was convicted by a jury of first degree battery December 23, 2013.
St. Johns County Court Judge Alex Christine sentenced ROLAND to 100 days in jail, with no credit; to anger management classes; to pay $300 restitution to his victim; and to 364 days probation.

Convicted batterer MERRILL PAUL ROLAND was convicted by unanimous jury verdict of spraying bug spray in the face of a man at Home Depot -- a man whom he first called homosexual in front of the man's girlfriend and the man's mother. The two had prior business deaings at a scooter rental store.

First degree battery charges were filed after the bug-spraying battery on July 10, 2013 at Home Depot in St. Augustine by the victim, a 28-year old white man, after an investigation by the St. Augustine Police Departmnt. The State's Attorney's office prosecuted the case. County Commission candidate MERRILL PAUL ROLAND defended himself pro se, after repeatedly waiving his right to counsel.

Based on Justice Department guidelines, the City of St. Augustine Police Deparemnt is now likely to report the State of Florida v. MERRILL PAUL ROLAND case as a successful hate crime prosecution (under the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990). ROLAND, who was signed up to run for County Commissioner against Chairman John Jay H. Morris of Ponte Vedra, qit,

No local news media of any kind, print or electronic, serving St. Johns County reported the MERRILL PAUL ROLAND conviction as involving a hate crime (calling somoneone homosexual and spraying bug spray in his face). Why? Query: Does any journalist who is not working for the New York Times bother to read our local police reports?

If this apparent anti-Gay hate crime had occured in St. Johns County -- outside the territorial limits of the City of St. Augustine, in controversial St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's jurisdiction -- what might have happened?
1. A standing ovation led by Sheriff SHOAR, like in the Michelle O'Connell shooting case (as seen on PBS Frontline and in the New York Times)? See below/
2. A flagrant failure to obtain forensic evidence? (Ditto).
3. Some cockamamie story that defies the laws of physics (or chemistry in this case)? (Ditto).
4. Edicts and ukases contrary to the rules of scientific evidence, including "junk science" masquerading as scientific "evidence?" (Ditto).

One thing is for certain: when the St. Augustine City Manager is honorable, our police officers can do their job. Thanks to City Manager John Patrick Regan, P.E., since mid-2010, St. Augustine Police can make correct decisions, uncontaminated by corrupt county machine politics, unbossed and unbullied by conflicts of interest.

Bullies, be afraid. Miscreant misanthropes: knock it off. Peace!

No more should anyone expect that good-ole-boy "Do you know who I am!?" incantations will work as proverbial "get out of jail free cards." (After one of ex-City Commissioner ERROL B. JONES' arrests, some City Commissioners joked they were considering bying nametags asking, "Do you know who I am!?" (That's what then-Commissioner JONES actually said to SAPD in 2012, shortly before his arrest).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve, 2013

This is Alexis O'Connell's fourth Christmas without her mother, Michelle O'Connell, shot to death with her boyfriend's St. Johns County Sheriff's Department handgun on September 2, 2010.

Hopes, prayers and best wishes to Alexis and the O'Connell family for Chrismas and tne New Year.

Justice for Michelle O'Connell!

In the New Year, I look forward to helping hold governments accountable, as I have done since college days at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Never again will St. Augustine and St. Johns County residents worship the power-hungry political machine here. We've seen the New York Times and PBS Frontline stories, and we know what they do -- we see right through their works and pomps.

St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR claims he has not watched the PBS Frontline story, "A Death in St. Augustine."

Do you believe SHOAR?

The whole world is watching and SHOAR says he refuses to watch the program, which is on the Internet forever.

At the St. Johns County Jail, published policies say that PBS is the only TV channel that inmates may watch. Did the inmates watch the Frontline story? Do they believe that SHOAR wasn't watching when his own overt acts were on national teleision?

If SHOAR didn't watch, why?

Guilty conscience? Cognitive dissonance? Or more lies?

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas famously claimed in 1991 that he refused to watch Anita Hill's testimony on national television.

Guilty conscience? Cognitive dissonance? Or more lies?

Like Clarence Thomas, SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR is caught in the searchlight of national publicity, lying about his own wrongdoing. Like Clarence Thomas, SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR is pretending that he and his deputy are the victims. SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR's apparatchik acolyte, MICHAEL GOLD, writes on his website (HISTORIC CITY NEWS) that there is a "witch hunt." Clarence Thomas said he was subjected to a "high-tech lynching." Both men are dull self-righteous Republican reprobates, lacking in character, who can only ululate. They are nothing for anyone to emulate.

Justice Clarance Thomas was a sexual harasser.

SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR covered up domestic violenc involving his own deputies, refusing to recuse himself in the case of a shooting of a deputy's girlfriend with a service revolver, icredibly and impossible ascribed to "suicide."

SHERIFF SHOAR has rebutted none of the forensic evidence.
"Witch hunt?"

Go tell that to the O'Connell family, whom SHOAR never bothered to speak with after the death of Michelle O'Connell.

SHOAR should have recused himself and his entire department. It was a blatant conflict of interest for deputies to investigate their colleague and friend, whose family SHOAR has known "for a long, long, long time."

The shoddy non-investigation of the Michelle O'Connell shooting death reflects discredit on St. Johns County. We need a woman Sheriff, a new State's Attorney, a new Medical Examiner, and County Commissioners with guts. We need a County Charter, an Inspector General, and an Ombuds, and never again must a Sheriff be permitted to rule without accountability. Enough of vile Caudillos like SHOAR and the late racist reprobate KKK member Sheriff LAWRENCE O. DAVIS (1949-70), removed by Florida's Governor and State Senate for corruption, who is fulsomely praised on Sheriff SHOAR's website, with multiple falsehoods (including how the State Senate exonerated him).

SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR is no martyr, and many believe he is shielding a possible murderer in his ranks.

Again, Alexis O'Connell, age 7, is spending her fourth Christmas without her mother, Michelle O'Connell.

Justice for Michelle O'Connell in 2014.

As Albert Gore, Sr. said on Election night 1970, "The truth shall rise again!"'

Justice for Michelle O'Connell in 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Why does baloney reject the grinder?

Rebarbative reprobate DAVID B. SHOAR f/k/a "DAVID HOAR" has a loyal henchman, apparatchik and hey-boy in MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a "MICHAEL TOBIN," who has operated local hate websites and runs somethng he calls "HISTORIC CITY NEWS,", which may also be reached by going to

Tortfeasor MICHAEL GOLD f/k/a "MICHAEL TOBIN" has attacked The New York Times, PBS Frontline, the St. Augustine Record, Jacksonville Journal and Florida Times Union for reporting the truth about Sheriff DAVID SHOAR. (Editorial, December 22, 2013, "When does obsession become malice?", mockingly opining inter alia that the Record "look[s] foolish and malicously motivated when" it "contues to drag out this dead horse and beat it some more," opining further that 60 Minutes will not dare cover the O'Connnell shooting story and that Governor RICHARD SCOTT will not dare do anything about it, either).

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR should have recused himself when the girlfriend of a deputy was shot and killed with the deputy's handgun.

Chief Loran Lueders and Chief Robert Hardwick, the Police Chiefs of the City of St. Augustine and the City of St. Augustine Beach both would have recused themselves. Anyone with a lick of horse sense would have done so.

Evidently, Sheriff DAVID SHOAR does not have any common sense. He has become a crooked politician who works for developers nad other wrongdoers. SHOAR sold his soul long ago. God forgive him.

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, unrepentant, refusing to apologize, recently told the St. Augustine Record he should have gone to the Michelle O'Connell shooting crime scene on September 2, 2010.

That dog won't hunt.

Nope. Our dopey Sheriff should have recused himself. Instanter.

Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for the United States Supreme Court sad in United States v. Mississippi Valley Generating Company said that all conflict of interest laws are based upon the book of Matthew, in the Bible, which states, "A man cannot serve two masters." Ironically, Sheriff SHOAR named his only son Matthew. Sheriff SHOAR is a practicing Roman Catholic who sings in a choir, and who well knows the standard of care for investigations, having graduated with honors in public administration, and from two (2) FBI Academies

In 2010, Sheriff SHOAR scotched criticism of rampant SJCSO Officer Involved Domestic Violence (OIDV) by refusing to recuse himself in the O'Connnell shooting case.

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR was elected thrice, two times without opposition, because his bagmen, MICHAEL GOLD and former City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, raised $250,000 for his 2004 election campaign from developers. That's the gift that keeps on giving to developers and other corrupters in St. Johns County.

Now MICHAEL GOLD attacks five (5) media outlets for seeking the truth. MICHAEL GOLD mocks the notion that Governor RICHARD SCOTT might do the right thing and take action. GOLD's probably right.

This is the fourth Christmas that Alexis O'Connell has spent without her mother, Michelle O'Connell.

Michelle O'Connell's very suspicious alleged shooting with a deputy's handgun does not look like "suicide." The ethically challenged State's Attorney7s and Medical Examiner look awful -- their sophistry defies the laws of physics. The conflicted non-investigation of the shooting by the deputy's colleagues and friends defies the laws of conflict of interest.

The O'Connell family deserves answers.

The people of St. Johns County -- and the United Sates of America -- deserve the truth. All of it. Now.

Truth is not flowing from the mouths of Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR, his mouthpieces and minions (including his brother-in-law CHARLES MULLLIGAN, his General Counsel MATTHEW CLINE and his outside counsel JON KANEY, once a respected First Amendment lawyer and now a legal prostitute, whom SHOAR paid with your money at least nearly $10,000 to help SHOAR evade, avoid and escape press questions).

The federal government is empowered to prosecute civil rights violations by local police. The feds recetly indicted some 20 Los Angeles County, California Sheriff's Deputies for cirvil rights vioaltions. The Justice Department has a distinguisedhed record (commencing under my late mentor St. John Barrett) of prosecuting criminal civil rights violations by law enforcement and the KKK, including the killers of civil rights workers in Mississippi.

Thus, the answer is federal, not state law.

We hope and pray that a federal grand jury, sworn to secrecy under Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, will subpoena SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR and his henchmen, apparatchiks and hey-boys, including MICHAEL GOLD and JON KANEY.

Questions must be asked about the O'Connell case and obstruction of justice, perjury, civil rights violations, mail fraud, wire fraud, and corrupton.

Will Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, MICHAEL GOLD and JON KANEY invoke their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination?

Will justice be done?

Or will this case, as so many in the hstory of St. Johns County, be "fixed?"

Satrap St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR remained silent during nine (9) months of investigations by the Times and Frontline.

Sheriff SHOAR refused to answer questions. One must ask of SHOAR, in the immortal words of William F. Buckley, Jr, "Why does baloney reject the grinder?"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

New Year's Prediction: Developer and Corrupter Power Broker Sherff DAVID B. SHOAR, f/k/a "DAVID HOAR, Will Retire in 2014

Reading today's St Augustine WReckKord article about Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR's inept response to the New Nork Times' investigation of his mishandling of the Michelle O'Cconnell shooting death leads to an ineluctable conclusion: Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR will retire in 2014.

Today, a month late, Sheriff DAVID SHOAR inveighed inept pejoratives at the Times and experts.
God forgive this SHERIFF SHOAR.
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR has not a legal or factual leg to stand on.
SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR is guilty, guilty, guilty.
SHERIFF SHOAR said he should have been at the scene of the September 2, 2010 shooting.
Sorry, SHERIFF SHOAR, you should have recused yourself, immediately, ab initio.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Historic African-American Home Threatened With Demolition, Gets Two Month Reprieve

The historic 100-year old home of the James H. Bell famly at 20 Bernard Street got a two month repvrive yesterday at the meeting of the St. Augustine Hhisoric Architecture Review Board.

The Limelight THeater sought a demolition permit to tear down the small structure, long the home of the Bell family, at 20 Bernard Street.

In 1963-64, half the children desegrgating local schools were residents of Bernard Street, whose residents were threatened, fired and firebombed by KKK members and local segregaionists, empowerd by the St. Augustine Reord's then-owners, who supported the KKK, Sheriff Lawrence O. Davis and Police Chief Virgil Stuart and their violent tactics. The Record published the names and addresses of the children and their parents, spurring forseable retaliation, for which the Record never apologized.

An historic marker on the street commemoreates hte courage of those residents under fire.

The Limelight Theater's demolition permit sought to demolish the small old wooden house to use the land for "open space," admitting it was not in danger of falling down. Yesterday, Limelight said it wants the land for parking.

After more than an hour of testimony and discussion, HARB postponed a decision until February 20th, allowing time for the City's building inspector and an engineer for the Limelight Theater to inspect the structure, and for Limelight to attempt to find someone to move the house to another location.

Limelight's HARB hearing Thursday was only one month before the City of St. Augustine's exhibit, "Journey: 450 Years of African-American History" commences at the Visitor Information Center. The exhibit will be free for local residents and students, and is intended to promote healing.

Toward that end, Limelight needs to stop relying on dodgy evidence from construction contractor Mike Davis (not an engineer) and work to save the building at 20 Bernard Street.

So much of our history has been destroyed. No more. The whole world is watching.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Drawing a Line in the Sand in St. Augustine Beach-- It Takes A Village to Preserve a Village

Last night, the St. Augustine Beach City Commission's Charter Review Committee agreed to recommend a City Charter amendment to limit building heights to 35 feet.
The "overwhelming consenus," (as facilitator Marilyn Crotty from the University of Central Florida put it), was what one committee member called "the hly grail" among beach residents -- no tall buildings here. St. Augustine Beach residents don't want tall buildings, anywhere, ever!
If approved by the City Commission next year, voters would have the opportunity to decide on this and other Charter Amendments in August or November elections.
My late mentor, Robin Nadeau, would have been proud to see this day.
Putting the 35 foot limit in the City charter preserves "our village," in the words of Henry Dean, a lawyer and former Executive Director of two of Florida's five water management districts (St. Johns River Water Management District and South Florida Water Management District).
Putting the 35 foot limit in the St. Augustine Beach Charter would tell Congress we're serious about protecitng our enviroment here at the local level, which should entice them to consdier seriously the St. Augustine Naional Historical Park and National Seashore legislation, first proposed in 1939 by then-Mayor Walter Fraser of St. Augustine.
Two board members were absent (St. Augustine Ciy Attorney Ronald Wayne Brown and former SAB Mayor Edward George), replaced by alternates for the key discussion on height limits.
Speaking for himself, SAB Planning and Zonding Board chazir Al Guido supported the height limits, as did I. No other citizens spoke or attended other than SAB employees.
The height limit discussion will be repeated over the next year, in countless ways, as democracy in action at St. Augustine beach, drawing a proverbial "line in the sand" that developers shall not cross.
Height limits are enforceable and constitutional, and preserve the "village" character of several other Florida towns.
The only one of seven charter board members to oppose the height limit last night was former City of St. Augustine Mayor Len Weeks. Mr. Weeks said he supported the 35 foot limit, but stated that he did not want it written in the Charter because he did not want to "tie the hands" of future commissioners in entertaining proposals from developers. He did not elaborate.
Talk about conscious parallelism: Ms. Crotty used the same tiresome trite trope ("Tie the hands") as the committee was appointed and got organized earlier this year. She said charters should not "tie the hands" of elected officials. This is errant nonsense. That's exactly what they're supposed to do!
Thus, I informed SAB City Commissioners and Charter Review Comittee members that that is exactly what charters and constitutions are supposed to do -- limit government. Ms. Crotty works for a UCF government advisory service that isn't always sensitive to public rights to open, accountable governments.
"Tie the hands," indeed. Harrumph!
Board members discussed their concerns about the future, and what future officeholders and staff might do.
As Henry Dean said, "we don't want to be Daytona Beach."
Developers and contractors (of which Weeks is a prominent one here) have a bad reputation in St. Johns County -- lower than whale poop at the bottom of the Sargasso Sea. Developers' uglifying monstrosities have killed thousands of oak and magnolia trees with clearcutting, packed our roads with poorly planned commerercial and residential entrances, and created suburban sprawl.
The real estate bubble and local activists ahve halted them in their tracks.
Preserving and protecting our history, nature and natural beauty here is the number one job of government.
The 35 foot limit will preserve what University of Florida Geography Professor Ari Lamme calls "our sense of place."

At one point, Ms. Crotty said something about not wanting to "reinvent the wheel." I responded later that the U.S. Patent and Trademark website shows there are some 500,000 patents for wheels, that we "reinvent the wheel" all the time, and that our Space Shuttles would not have been able to land without "reinventing wheels."
"Reinventing government" does not benefit from cognitive misers, or from Ms. Crotty's trite tropes like "tying the hands" and "we don't want to reinvent the wheel."

Other matters discussed last night include: (a) allowing city ordinances to be amended or abolished by initiatives and referendums by voters, and (b) requiring city commissioner candidates to run against all commission candidates in an election, rather than for a particular seat (eliminating "free rides" for candidates who draw no opponent).

Timing: St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections Vicky Oakes, an ally of controersial St. Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar, has attempted to dictate to the St. Augustine Beach City Commission her queer notion that the Charter amendments must be on the August Primary ballot, she claims it is because of an as-yet unknown number of state constitutional amendments. St. Johns County Election Supervisor Vicky Oakes is in no position to dictate timing to municipal elected officials.
Committee members and citizens agree: turnout is too low in primaries -- abysmal -- and primaries concide with prime hurricane season. Better to let everyone vote in November, when we elect Florida's next Governor.

Loopholes: The 35 foot height limit for buildings is currently written in four city ordinances, which make exceptions for an extra five feet of concealed heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other accoutrements at the top of buildnigs, as long as there is an architectural feature concealing them across only part of the building. The Charter language would likely incorporate this exemption for commercial buildings, but not homes.

Bottom line: St. Augustine Beach voers will likely get to vote next year to retain their "village" character, by adopting the 35 foot building height limit in their City Charter --- thereby preserve and protect their environmental heritage for future generatinos, precluding tall beach homes, condos or hotels that smear, blear and tear so much of Florida's coastline.

Three cheers for the Charter Review Committee of St. Augustine Beach!

Viewing St. Johns County from Google Earth, one sees very few tall buildings anywhere along our coast. From the Volusia County line to the Duval County line (Jacksonville), Flagler and St. Johns County's coastlines are relatively unscathed. Our Matanzas River is one of the purest in the state, and was recently blessed with a new Riverkeeper organization, headed by Neil Armingeon, who was the first St. Johns River Waterkeeper.

Next steps: I predict a 35 foot limit will eventually be the rule, by charter, countywide.

In 2008, egged on by some Ponte Vedra residents, our St. Johns County Commissioners proposed a half-baked "starter charter" that would have made the 35 foot limit countywide.

Voters disapproved of the charter, but not the height limit (which required passage of the charter to become effective).
The "starter charter" did not amount to a charter of limited government, did not include an Inspector General or Ombuds, did not do anything to hold the Sheriff, Election Supervisor and other constitutional officers accountable (leaving them out), required petition signatures of 20% of voters to amend it, and, incredibly, insulted GLBT people by leaving us out of section 10.06, a putative "nondiscrimination" provision.
I helped kill that charter, and I would do it again. However, I would support a charter that is consisent with the vision of James Madison and our Founding Fathers. Charters, like constitutions, are supposed to "tie the hands" of government officials. (Sorry, Ms. Crotty, but you can look it up!)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

FDLE does appear to have made one mistake about the Michelle O"Connell shooting case

The FDLE's investigation of the death of Michelle O'Connell has at least one major flaw: the timeline.

FDLE incorrectly assumed that the September 2, 2013 3-band Paramore concert at the St. Augustine Amphieatre must have ended at 10 PM, based upon witnesses describing the curfew at the Amphitheatre.

However, Mr. Ryan Murphy, St. Augustne Amphitheater Manager, has confirmed to me in writing that this particular concert, one where the gates opened at 5:30, ended sometime between 9:30 and 9:50.

Thus, there was an additional ten (10) minutes and up to as much as an additional thirty (30) minutes, within which the events of Septembber 2, 2010 transpired at 4700 Sherlock Place in rural-surburban sprawl southern St. Johns County.

St. Augustine Amphitheater concerts may end after 10 PM with permission by the City Manager and County Administrator, as where then there are weather delays, no problem with decibel levels, and few or no complaints from neighbors. They may also end earlier when theu begin early, as with the September 2, 2010 Paramore concert, where the gates opened at 5:30.

Federal investigators will find a list of local law enforcement officers worked off-duty at the Paramore conert to provide security: their recollections as to when th3 concert ended will back up the Amphitheater Manager's. recollections So will Amphitheater pay and receipt records.

Of course, St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's 153-page flyspecking nitpicking of the FDLE report missed this error about the timeline.

It appears that Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR was not searching for truth -- he was grasping at straws in response to the New York Times records request.

Hence, SHERIFF SHOAR left out one verifiably valid criticism of the FDLE investigation -- the timeline.

Wonder why?

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR is a graduate of two FBI academies. His department is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agents, Inc. (CALEA).

Sheriff SHOAR's self-investigation stinks.


Apparently the faux Fox News propaganda site HISTORIC CITY NEWS has now deleted a December 2, 2013 editorial about former St. Augustine Record Edior Peter Ellis still having questions for Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR.
It is still listed on Google but has been deleted -- "Error 404." It is described on Google as "Editorial: Ellis still has questions for Shoar."

It's gone now. Wonder why?
It's also apparently been deleted from Topix. Why?

We Need New Interlocal Agreements to Rein In Law Enforcement Abuses of Power

The interlocal agreement fo mutual aid and assistance between the City of St. Augustine and the St. Johns County Sheriff expired some eleven months ago.

We need a new interlocal agreement to rein in abuse of power by Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR.
We also need one with the Medical Examiner.
We also need one with the State's Attorney.

Justice for Michelle O'Connell.
No more blank checks for Caudillos.

No more $225,000 annual paycheck for an insouciant medical examiner who uses scotch tape to manufacture evidence -- using physics-defying sophistry about guns movign forward after they fire -- embarrassing the good people of St. Johns County and disrespecting the O'Connell family on national television. Dr. PREDRAG BULIC, M.D. should be fired for gross incompetence.

No more mutual aid and assistance to the Sheriff without boundaries -- ethics, recusal, collection, preservation and analysis of evidence. There's too much at stake. St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach could be held liable for anything wrong that they do in conjunction with SJCSO in a mutual aid and assistance situation.

We have a right to insist that SJCSO comply with ethical norms before putting SAPD and SABPD officers in harm's way with SJCSO.

No more coverups.

No more lies.

No more secrecy.

The whole world is watching.

What do you reckon?

Times-Union editorial nearly hits the mark on Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR

Article IV, Section 7, of our Florida Constitution states:
SECTION 7. Suspensions; filling office during suspensions.—(a) By executive order stating the grounds and filed with the custodian of state records, the governor may suspend from office any state officer not subject to impeachment, any officer of the militia not in the active service of the United States, or any county officer, for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony, and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension. The suspended officer may at any time before removal be reinstated by the governor.
(b) The senate may, in proceedings prescribed by law, remove from office or reinstate the suspended official and for such purpose the senate may be convened in special session by its president or by a majority of its membership.
(c) By order of the governor any elected municipal officer indicted for crime may be suspended from office until acquitted and the office filled by appointment for the period of suspension, not to extend beyond the term, unless these powers are vested elsewhere by law or the municipal charter.

In 1970, Florida Governor Claude Kirk, Jr. removed corrupt St. Johns County Sheriff LAWRENCE O. DAVIS, and the Florida Senate upheld the removal by vote of 44-2. They did so despite a St. Johns County jury's seven mnute deliberations before finding DAVIS "not guilty." St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's website actually claims the State Senate "exonerated" DAVIS. More lies. Those same lies -- and false statements that Sheriff LAWRENCE DAVIS somehow "held the town together" in 1964 and that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested here by "federal agents" were on Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's website on August 28, 2013 the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. King's "I have a dream speech." Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's brother-in-law, Commander Charles Mulligan (his press spokesman, natch), wrote me that the SJCSO's "by federal agents" lie was a "typo!" He would not explain. The "federal agents" lie has since been removed. The rest of the sickening paen to DAVIS remains. The paen to DAVS is word-for-word from what former Sheriff NEIL PERRY distributed in an amateurish non-book prepared in 1995. Quick review -- three Sheriff SHOAR website lies about Sheriff DAVIS: One: DAVIS was a crook, he was removed by the Governor, and his removal was upheld by the Florida Senate, which fired him by vote of 44-2. Two: Sheriff DAVIS did not "hold the town together," he was a KKK member and sympathizer who violated civil rights. Three: Dr. King was never arrested anywhere by "federal agents."

Like Governor Claude Kirk before him, who rightly removed corrupt Sheriff LAWRENCE O. DAVIS, Florida Governor RICHARD SCOTT has those same constitutional powers to suspend Sherff DAVID B. SHOAR for misconduct in office, pending invstigation. See Article IV, Section 7, above. Governor SCOTT should use it as a result of the unrebutted New York Times and PBS Frontline revelations about SHOAR's misconduct in office in connection with the Michelle O'Connell shooting case. The Governor could sign a document complying with Article IV, Section 7 of the Florida Constitution, suspending SHOAR for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty," and "incompetence."

No one among us disagrees: St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR should have recused himself on September 2, 2010 when deputies were called to the home of a fellow deputy, whose girlfriend was shot with the deputy's own SJCSO weapon.

Every single thing that happened after that bad decision is the sequelae of bad judgment. The police chiefs of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach would both have recused themselves. So would anyone else with any sense of ethics. Or any heart, soul or brains at all.

For the record: Sheriff DAVID SHOAR worked his way college, earning three degrees. He has an M.A. in Public Administration, graduated from two FBI academies, and has a Public Administration award at Flagler College named after him. He's well read. He's not stupid -- smug Sheriff DAVID SHOAR is ethically challenged, like disgraced President RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON. Like NIXON, SHOAR thinks we're stupid. He's wrong.

So, instead of recusing himself, Sheriff SHOAR has embarassed St. Johns County residents in the eyes of the entire world.

To say that Sheriff SHOAR's corruption is bad for tourism is hardly necessary -- it is bad for everyone living in St. Johns County. Do you in the County feel safe knowing such unethical behavior exists?

Sherff DAVID SHOAR aggressively embroiled his own career and his entire department n a full-throated defense of one of his deputies, obstructing justice, attacking FDLE, libelling witnesses, firing truth-tellers, coercing, restraining and chilling First Amendment protected activity, threatening journalists, and generally showing himself to be a narcissistic noisome public nuisance.

Sheriff SHOAR is a stench in the nostrils of our Nation.

As seen in the PBS Frontline story's conclusion, Sheriff SHOAR actually asked deputies to give a standing ovation to the deputy in quo -- and had himself videotaped doing so. "Let's give these two guys a hand," indeed!

This DAVID B. SHOAR "selfie" is rank and fetid. It ranks among the rank and fetid down there with RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON's own self-tape recorded White House depravities, which Nixon's disgraced Attorney General JOHN NEWTON MITCHELL (a convicted felon) rightly called "White House horrors."

So, what is to be done? What do we do about Sheriff's Department "horrors?"

First, we must ask Sheriff SHOAR, in the words of lawyer Joseph Welch during the Army-McCarthy hearings, "At long last sir, have you no sense of decency?" Will he resign? I doubt it.

Second, the Justice Department needs to subpoena SHOAR before a Federal Grand Jury.

The FBI and Justice Department have the power to investigate criminal civil rights violations, as they have done in the Los Angeles County, California Sheriff's Department, indicting officers for obstruction of justice and brutality.

The FBI and Justice Department have the power to investigate materially false statements to law enforcement, as they did in the case of Martha Stewart. Sheriff SHOAR sent his materially false and misleading attacks on witnesses and FDLE to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, with the intention of causing harm to FDLE agents for doing their job.

The FBI and Justice Department must get to work.

False statements to federal officials are serious felonies. So are civil rights voilations under color of state law. So is obstruction of justice.

The Florida Times-Union editorial (reprinted below), "Too many questions remain in death of deputy's girlfried (sic)," complete with headline typo, nearly hits the mark.

"Too many questions....?" That's an understatement. An investigation and inquest are both required. But that's not all, folks. Federal investigation is mandatory.

Further state investigations could be a snare and a delusion -- Sheriff SHOAR has requested one of the FDLE agents, remember, T-U?

So we're expecting what from the State now, T-U?

T-U to the contrry, I seriously doubt that anything will ever be done about SHERIFF SHOAR by our disreputable "Fifth Amendment" Florida Governor RICHARD SCOTT.

Again, SCOTT has appointed to the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission BOTH DAVID B. SHOR AND SHOAR's mendacious mentor, tatterdemalion former St. Augustine Ciy Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS (supposedly the only citizen representative out of nineteen members, he actually works for SJCSCO).

I do so hope I'm wrong about SCOTT's response on Sheriff SHOAR. But I would not heavily mortgage my time looking for Governor RICHARD SCOTT to do much of anything about SHOAR -- he is "all hat and no cattle."

Our corrupt Sunshine state government's longstanding one-party misrule (first by segregationist Democrats, now by corporativist Republicans) after all these yearsssis still centered on electoral gerrymandering, voter suppression, and developer cash. Florida is still run by narcissistic super-sized egos (like the maladroit, ethically impaired RICHARD SCOTT, and DAVID SHOAR).

Expecting one other-directed Florida Republican politican to attack another is not unlike expecting rattlesnakes to bite each other -- wouldn't that be a violation of poitical norms and "professional courtesy?"

Two Florida State's Attorneys have been part of the O'Connell case bungling and coverup. Shall we try for a third? Why bother? This is like Mississipi in 1963-64, as popularized in Mississippi Burning (and Ghosts of Mississippi).

To remedy St. Johns County's "Wild West" corruption and vile, retaliatory, sexist, misogynist racist hostile working environment of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Department requires federal action.

Possible federal crimes are at issue.

Federal action was required in 1964 in Mississippi and here, where Sheriff LAWRENCE O. DAVIS (praised on SHOAR's website for his racist actions in 1964, which SHOAR says somehow "held the town together") handed out deputy badges to HOSS MANUCY and other KKK members (and his deputies formed a considerble corps of KKK support here). Courageous United States District Judge BRYAN SIMPSON ordered deputies fired and KKK members were outed and ousted.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder must convene a Federal Grand Jury pursuant to Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, subpoena witnessese, obtain evidence and find and publish the truth about the St. JOHNS COUNTY SHERIFF.

Expect sweeping indictments.

Let justice be done.

Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville) Editorial: Too many questions remain in death of deputy's girlfried (sic)

Too many questions remain in death of deputy's girlfried
Posted: December 10, 2013 - 3:35pm
JView this story on the All-Access Members siteThe mishandled investigation into the shooting death of a deputy’s girlfriend has thrust the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office into the national spotlight.

Whether the death of Michelle O’Connell was a suicide or a homicide has been in dispute since Sept. 2, 2010, when Deputy Jeremy Banks called 911 and said the 24-year-old woman shot herself in his home.

What is hardly disputed is that the investigation had major flaws.


O’Connell was shot in the mouth with Banks’ .45-cal. pistol during what he described as a breakup and her packing to move out.

Following an autopsy, the medical examiner at first ruled the death a suicide, but after he was shown additional evidence, he later signed an amended death certificate calling it homicide.

Still later, he called it suicide again.

The case is rife with contradictions, accusations of police covering for their own, inter-agency rancor and lawsuits against investigators.

It was recently the subject of a lengthy front-page story in The New York Times and a Frontline PBS documentary.

The commendable journalism by the Times laid bare a host of contradictions and troubling questions about the process of the investigation.


Central to the narrative is St. Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar, who after learning about inquiries by the Times ordered a 152-page review of his office’s actions that attempted to counter theories and evidence undermining a finding of suicide. Shoar declined to be interviewed by the Times or Frontline.

The most egregious mistake in the handling of the case was Shoar’s failure to immediately ask an outside agency to investigate the death of a deputy’s girlfriend, who witnesses said had complained about being abused by Banks.

The Times report also focused on the matter of domestic abuse involving police officers, how it is addressed by law enforcement agencies and why some departments, including Shoar’s, fail to follow suggested guidelines for dealing with abuse.

O’Connell family members refused to believe it was a suicide, especially a sister, Christine O’Connell, to whom Michelle had sent a text shortly before her death saying she was leaving Banks and would soon be on her way to pick up her 4-year-old daughter.


Under pressure from the family and others, Shoar asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in January 2011 to conduct an independent review of O’Connell’s death.

Within days, FDLE turned up two witnesses who separately said they were smoking cigarettes in a nearby home’s garage on Sept. 2 when they heard two people yelling, then a woman screaming “help,” followed by a gun shot, then “help” again, followed by another gun shot. Each passed a polygraph test.

Tests on evidence from the scene revealed Banks’ DNA was not on his weapon, which he had carried on his last shift. O’Connell’s DNA was on the weapon, but there was no trace of hers on two pill bottles in her purse, which belonged to Banks. The pills were in her pocket.

Conflicting theories focused on a cut above O’Connell’s right eye, which the medical examiner, Frederick Hobin, said was caused by an ejected shell casing.


A new medical examiner, Predrag Bulic, concluded a tactical light under the barrel of the gun had caused that injury.

For that to happen, O’Connell would have had to hold the weapon upside down when she put it in her mouth and fired, and the tactical light would have had to move forward when the gun recoiled. Forensic experts said Bulic’s conclusion was contrary to the laws of physics.

Jerry Findley, a crime scene reconstructionist consulted by FDLE, concluded the injury was caused by the sight at the end of the barrel, likely before the gun was shot. The location of spent shells and other circumstances led him to conclude the gun was fired by a person using the left hand. O’Connell was right-handed; Banks is left-handed.

Findley concluded the evidence was not consistent with suicide but was consistent with homicide.

Dominic Pape, the head of FDLE’s Jacksonville office, wrote to Brad King, the state attorney assigned to handle the case, asking King for a formal inquest. But King refused and decided there was no basis for filing charges, a decision that Shoar hailed as vindication of his office.

The case goes on. Banks has filed a lawsuit against Rusty Rogers, FDLE’s lead investigator, and Pape, alleging misconduct during FDLE’s investigation.

So much is in dispute amid so many unanswered questions about the case that Gov. Rick Scott should order a comprehensive investigation and a formal inquest into O’Connell’s death.

Unless that is done, Banks and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office will remain under a cloud of suspicion, largely because the Sheriff’s Office handled the case badly and failed to call in an outside agency at the outset.

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3789 POINTS View Profile

Pointslilrio 12/10/13 - 05:02 pm 00The governor should order an

The governor should order an investigation into the St Johns County Sheriffs Office. I watched the reporters investigation and the reporter did a better investigation than the St Johns County Sheriffs Office. This case has me believing the deputy killed his girlfriend. From what I have seen the deputy should be arrested and let a jury decide. The Sheriffs Office screwed this investigation up from the time they showed up. Looks like Shore may have some opponents in the next election.

10585 POINTS View Profile

Pointsjohnctaughtme 12/10/13 - 05:24 pm 00It is a tragedy for all

It is a tragedy for all concerned. Those suspected and accused of a crime deserve a fair trial. They and the victims also deserve a competent, effective investigation of the circumstances.

Somebody in this case has not been well-served. Obviously, the victim has not been, if it was indeed murder. If it wasn't, then Deputy Banks hasn't been, as the taint and suspicions surrounding this case will haunt him for the rest of his life.

7334 POINTS View Profile

PointsOwnTheNight 12/11/13 - 03:01 pm 00Shoar has always been shaky.

Shoar has always been shaky. Hopefully the citizens of St Johns Co. will realize that he needs to go next election cycle.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

One Year Ago Tonight

One year ago tonight, St. Augustine City Commission passed 5-0 a Fair Housing ordinance recognizing rights of GLBT people to be free from discrimiantion.
We beat the Ku Klux Klan.
Racist ex-Mayor Shelley would not recognize St. Augustine. Neither would J.B. Stoner.
A siilar ordinance was enacted by St. Augustine Beach earlier his yar, also voting to add an employment non-discrimination oreinance.
Sheriff David Shoar also bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.
First to do so in St. Johns County was our Anastasia Mosquito Control Commissino of St. Johns County.
Speaking of St. Johns County, do you get the impression that our County Administrator and County Commission are shy about proteting human rights, while aggressive in tolerating bigotry? When are they going to ask Sheriff DAVID SHOAR about the FOr Street incident, and the $275,000 in secret settlements reported by the New York Times?

Michael Gold is Wrong Again -- Histrionic HISTORIC CITY NEWS reprints racist JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY PAMPHLET, "Rape of the Ancient City," Repeating Falsehoods About St. Augustine's 1964 Civil Rights Heroes and Sheroes

MICHAEL GOLD (f/k/a "MICHAEL TOBIN") raised $250,000 in campaign contributions for Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR (f/k/a "DAVID B. HOAR") in 2004.
GOLD/TOBIN's efforts meant that SHOAR/HOAR was re-elected (coronated) without opposition in 2008 and 2012. He could be Sheriff for Life, like Neil Perry before him.
Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's website contains materially false and misleading statement, to wit, lies, about the Michelle O'Connell case and a paen to Sheriff L.O. DAVIS, removed from office by the Florida Governor and state Senate in 1970 (SHOAR's webste claims L.O. DAVIS "held the town together" and was somehow exonerated by the Florida State Senate. More lies from Sheriff DAVID SHOAR.
Republican PR man, former Sheriff's deputy and private investigator MICHAEL GOLD has run hate websites.
MICHAEL GOLD runs HISTORIC CITY NEWS, an oxymoronic press release for DAVID B. SHOAR and Republicans. In fact, anyone recently typing into an Internet connection will be taken directly to the HISTORIC CITY NEWS website.
Today's online HISTORIC CITY NEWS reprints as "Special to Historic City News" a 50-year-old propagandistic, 10 page racist lying JOHN BRICH SOCIETY leaflet from 1964, in haec verba, attacking Dr. Robert Hayling, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Governor Peabody's mother, and nearly everyone else.
In this topsy turvy calumny, white racists are victims.
KKK terrorists were united with the JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY in fighting desegregation.
This is how MICHAEL GOLD intends to kick off the 2014 celebration of the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- not with healing, not with brotherhood, but with Lashon hara and lies.
Shame on anyone who treats HISTORIC CITY NEWS as real journalism, including the St. Augustine Record, which recently repeated that canard in a front page article.
Sounds like the segregationists are circling the wagon, not healing but heaping abuse on esteemed civil rights leaders, both local and national.
This is not the first time MICHAEL GOLD and HISTORIC CITY NEWS have lauded the JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY -- last year it praised a JBS speaker at the ST. AUGUSTINE TEA PARTY, one who bragged about JBS halting police civilian review boards under the guise of a "Support Your Local Police" bandwagon, also claiming cred for abolition of the Justice Department's Law Enfocement Assistnace Administration in 1982. LEAA is now known as the Office of Justice Programs.
A police civilian review board would be empowered to investigate Officer Involved Domestic Violence, but the swaggering JBS misogynists don't want that.
Remember William F. Buckley, Jr.? Buckley rejected the JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY crazies, who called President Dwight Eisenhower a "Communist," just as the Tea Party does now with President Barack Obama.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Hamilton Nolan is Right

Writing for Gawker, St. Augustine native Hamilton Nolan, formerly with Folio Weekly has made his family (the Hamiltons and the Nolans) proud, and he has made many a heart leap with joy here.

Nolan was responding to the St. Augustine Record's new editor, who moved here a few weeks ago, casting aspersions (and asparagus) at the New York Times for "parachuting into" St. Augustine and not "making friends" with our corrupt Sheriff, DAVID B. SHOAR.
What noisome gooberishness.

Journalist Hamilton Nolan rightly skewered the St. Augustine Record earlier this week, calling it a "crap paper" for its inane response to what he correctly termed the "Pulitzer worthy" New York Times and PBS Frontline investigation.

There, I quoted it -- Hamilton Nolan called the Record a "crap paper" -- I'm not so Puritanical that I won't quote another journalist calling the St. Augustine Record a "crap paper."

As William F. Buckley, Jr. once wrote, "we must cut the crap." The Record must at long last "cut the crap" and start giving us the real deal, real scoops and real news, and stop pussyfooting around like pusillanimous pussyfooters.

"No matter what you say, it's still a newspaper," in the immortal words of Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Jim Dykes once opined of his newspaper (subject of a Newspaper Guild byline strike that predated the one at the Wall Street Journal)

As a newspaper, this 14-year resident, 14-year subscriber expects the Record to start acting like one. Start investigating, and stop perseverating about our "image" -- what you see is the fault of all of us, for not asking mroe questions.
As Edward R. Murrow quoted Shakespeare when discussing the power of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wisc.), "The fault ... lies not in our stars, but in ourselves."

The Record needs to report on what it long ignored -- racism and corruption

We're glad to have an actual local newspaper here, now.

The Record was once owned by racists who publishe the addresses of African-American local school children integrating local schools, and the address of Dr. King's temporary residence, resulting in firebombings and shootings.

The Record has much for which to atone. In the words of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Mikado," "I've got a little list."

At long last, the Record needs to "cut the crap" and for once, distinguish itself as a newspaper, not a KKK rag.

The Record needs to show it has learned from the past.

The Record needs to show that, under new managemen, it now knows the difference between journalism and press release publishing, as practiced by erstwhile hate site operator MICHAEL GOLD's (Sheriff DAVID SHOAR's erstwhile $250,000 fundraiser in 2004) "Historic City News," which the Record this mmorning somehow mistook for a journalist.

Here's Hamilon Nolan's critque, in haec verba:

In words written by Robert Kennedy in signing a copy of his book to racist segregationist U.S. Senator James O. Eastland, let me advise the Record: "Repent now, there's still time."

Henry Whetstone is correct

Quoted in today's St. Augustine Record, Henry Whetstone predicts further scrutiny, including a possible grand jury investigation. Mr, Whetstone is correct.

Justice for Michelle O'Connell and protection of the public interest required three years ago a grand jury investigation of Sheriff David Shoar and his ham-handed refusal to recuse himself for multiple months.

A federal grand jury must be impannelled and sworn to investigate St. Johns County corruption, inclding SJCSO>

It's our money.

Now that Sheriff DAVID SHOAR (formerly "DAVID HOAR") has shown his incompetence nad malfeasance, using tax money as he libelled witnesses and attacked FDLE agents, sending material falsehoods to the Justice Department, he must be investgiated by the Criminal and Civil Rights Divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice and by the Feeral Bureau of Investigation.

Leave no stone unturned. Look under rocks. Find out how William B. Harriss' influence, retaliation against First Amendment protected activity by officers, witnesses and residents, sloppy police work, obstruction of justice, material false statements, failure to collect evidence, conflict of interest, favoritism, nepotism, no-bid contracts, civil rights violations, racism, sexism and misogyny have once again disgracd St. Johns County in the eyes of the world.

Racism ruined our 400th anniverary in 1964.

Let's not allow corruption to ruin our 450th.

St. Augustine has made too much progress to allow a crooked county sheriff to ruin our reputation.

We know our City Manager and Police chief woud have recused themselves instanter if the shooting occurred here on September 2, 2010. Why is Sheriff David Shoar wasting tax money defending hte indefensible, inanely and insanely attacking both the New York Times and FDLE.

SHOAR's sexist, misogynist approach to the O'Connell case is to attack Michelle O'Connell and her family with lies, slurs and pejoratives.

The ethically challenged inspid Sheriff DAVID SHOAR is guilty of bad law enforcement, bad taste and gross waste, spending hundreds of hours of staff time on attacking FDLE with an outcome-driven defense document, a 153-page "report."

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR spent some $10,000 of our money hiring a respected First Amendment lawyer as his mouthpiece (Daytona Beach lawyer JON KANEY, counsel for the Florida First Amendment Foundation and media outlets throughout Florida)

JON KANEY of all people should hang his head in shame for taking such a despicable client as Sheriff DAVID SHOAR).

The whole world is watching.

In the words of the ancient equitable maxim, "let justice be done though the heavens fall."

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Letter to New York Times Requesting Correction (re: The Birth of Thanksgiving)

The Birth of Thanksgiving -- correction, please
Dear Editor:
The first Thanksgiving was September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida,
involving newly landed Spanish settlers and Native Americans, some 55 years
before Plymouth.
America's first Hispanics, first African Americans, first Catholics and first
Jews attended the first Thanksgiving here after 800 settlers landed and said the
first Catholic Mass on these shores.
The Anglophilic Plymouth "First Thanksgiving" myth is both ethnocentric and
Please correct this error.
Thank you!
With kindest regards, I am,
Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085

The Michelle O'Connell Shooting Case -- "Unjust Law Is No Law At All," in the Words of Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine wrote, “An unjust law is no law at all.” The Times/PBS Frontline investigation shows two unjust elected lawmen's callous indifference to domestic violence here in Saint Augustine's Florida namesake.

This is a beautiful place that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called America's “most lawless” city.

America began in St. Augustine, Florida September 8, 1565 with 800 colonizers, with America's first Hispanics, first Catholics, first Jews and first African-Americans sharing Mass and a Thanksgiving feast with Native Americans. St. Augustine was a diverse and tolerant place long before witch-burning English colonists landed. We're welcoming the world to commemorate our 450th anniversary in 2015.

For 448 years, St. Augustine has survived – overcoming European religious wars on our shores, as well as genocide, sieges, arson (twice burned to the ground by the British), pirates, slavery, indentured servitude, Civil War, lynchings, KKK, Jim Crow segregation, mass arrests, hate crimes, mosquitoes, hurricanes, economic hard times, First Amendment violations, illegal dumping and environmental racism (refusal to provide sewer service to an African-American neighborhood and illegal dumping of 40,000 cubic yards of solid waste in our Old City Reservoir).

Our ancient City is now healing ancient wounds, righting wrongs.

I reckon St. Augustine and St. Johns County will also survive Sheriff David Shoar, State's Attorney R.J. Larizza and their coverups, just as America survived Richard Nixon.
As Justice Brandeis said, official lawbreaking “promotes disrespect for the law, and anarchy.” As a fourteen-year St. Augustine resident, I offer twelve reforms inspired by the O'Connell case:
We need more women Sheriffs. Male-dominated law enforcement culture covers up officer-involved domestic violence (OIDV).
We need early detection/deterrence of OIDV. Victims of OIDV are afraid, very afraid, to report concerns to the colleagues of their spouses.
We must enforce evidence preservation, recusal and conflict of interest standards and whistleblower protections for law enforcement officers .
Investigative reporting. Only the Times reported the whole truth about a 2010 shooting of a deputy's girlfriend, dedicating time and talent. We need more investigative reporting by local newspapers.
Ombuds. Our local governments need Ombuds to advocate for citizens' concerns. People without influence (like the O'Connell family) too often get ignored and bullied.
Inspectors General. Our local governments need independent Inspectors General to ferret out misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance, waste, fraud and abuse.
Competitive elections. Our St. Johns County Democratic Party has not run a Democrat in a partisan county-wide race since 2006. In his first election in 2004, corporations backed Shoar with $250,000, more than $1 for each county resident. Sheriff Shoar has never had a Democratic opponents and ran unopposed in 2008 and 2012.
Grand Jury. In 2008, Florida Governor Charles Crist asked the Supreme Court to appoint our nineteenth Statewide Grand Jury, but the statewide prosecutor ignored requests to investigate St. Johns County corruption.
County government oversight. Southern Sheriffs are political bosses.. Poltroonish County Commissioners coddle them. County Commissioners must do their job, without favoritism or fear.
Public protest. Decisions get made by those who “show up.”
Minimum age of 25 years old for police officers. That's what Chicago and New Zealand require. Deputy Jeremy Banks was apparently hired at age 20 – not old enough to drink alcohol.
Sheriff Selection. Elected sheriffs originated some 1000 years ago, in medieval England. As Justice Holmes said it's “disgusting” to have no “better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down at the time of Henry IV.” Reforms must be debated.

In 1898, Emile Zola's “J'Accuse” exposed the French Army's false treason conviction of Alfred Dreyfus, imprisoned on Devil's Island. Dreyfus was exonerated and freed.

In 2013, the Michelle McConnell case likewise documents government duplicity. As Chief Justice Warren wrote in 1956 in Mesarosh v. United States, “the waters of justice” in this “reservoir” are “polluted” and must be cleaned up. Federal investigation is required: Sheriff Shoar sent his false, misleading 150-page report to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, possibly a federal crime.
As LBJ told Congress after Selma, “We SHALL overcome.”

Ed Slavin
Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084

The Law of Physics and the Nepotistic St. Johns County Sheriff's Department, Medical Examiner and State's Attorney Offices

Do guns kick forward when they discharge?
Apparently DR. PREDRAG BULIC, M.D., our $225k/year Medical Examinr thinks so.
St. Johns County Commissioners need to review, re-evaluate and cancel his contract for the convenience of the government -- his online antics showed that he is as unqualified and lugubrious a Medical Examiner as ever made a chair squeak.
He has embarassed our City and County in the eyes of the world.
Apparently BRAD KING, Esquire, Fourth Circuit State's Attorney and Sheriff DAVID B. SHOAR think guns discharging kick back forward too.
SHOAR is a graduate of two FBI Academies.
Over the last few weeks, I checked with a physicist Ph.D. and a licensed Professional Engineer with a Master's Degree as well as experienced law enforcers and gun-toters over the last few weeks.
Every single one of them laughed.
Guns discharged kick backwards, not forwards.
"Are the laws of physics somehow different here" (in the immortal words of "My Cousin Vinnie," about how long it takes fo grits-cooking)?
Is there a different law of Physics here in St. Johns County, contrary to the experience of the entire gun-shooting world?
This gun-discharging-and-kicking-forward explanation has less plausibility than the Warren Commission's Single Bullet Theory.
This gun-discharging-and-kicking-forward fantasy is a stench in the nostrils of a free people.
Everyone in our County knows they're lying.
Dr. BULIC, Mr. KING and Sheriff SHOAR f/k/a "HOAR" all have some 'splainin' to do.
What do you reckon?
See below.

Hundreds of hours of Sheriff's office staff and contractor time wasted on coverup by St. Johns County Sheriff, David Shoar, f/k/a "David Hoar," Including Nearly $10k in Legal Bills to Resist New York Times Investigation and Interview re: the Michelle O'Connell Shooting Case

It's our money.
Sheriff David B. Shoar has wasted hundreds of hours of staff and conractor time, with an unknown cost.
Nearly $10,000 was spent on legal bills to Daytona Beach attorney JON KANEY for resisting New York Times investigation and interview -- flakcatching, flummery, dupery, nincompoopery at our expense.
It's our money.
The amount includes bills by KANEY to edit mewling hate mail Sheriff Shoar sent through intersate commerce, apparently misrepresenting facts, just as SHOAR did in mailings to the Civil Righrts Sivision of the Justice Department.
The terms grand jury, mail fraud, wire faud, material false statement, RICO, civil rights and obstruction of justice come to mind.
Please read below the transcript of the WGBGH PBS Frontline story, "A Death in St. Augustine," and the New York Times investigation, "Two Shots on a Summer Evening."

Ben Rich: The Storm on The Horizon

It has been years since I have written to you about issues in St Johns County. However, with the recent exposure of our county regarding the admitted bungling of an investigation involving the death of a girlfriend of one of David Shoar's enforcement officers, I feel compelled to express my feelings on the matter of the exposure, not the death.
Your readers should know that the global news community is publishing this negative and shocking story. Serious negative focus is being directed at our little county nationally and internationally. The recent New York Times front page exposure in a 14,000 word indictment, coupled with one hour of Frontline television exposure, will damage our current struggling tourist industry. The attempts of our Sheriff, through his website, to bail water from his sinking agency reflect his desperation rather than confidence. In the field of law enforcement, the appearance of impropriety is as damning as impropriety itself.
I have been involved in government my entire life. I know the symptoms of its illnesses and in many cases I have learned the cures. Knowing how to get the right people to fix broken, ineffective, abusive, fraud infected or corrupt government is one of my limited talents. Our Sheriff's department is out of control and now the whole world knows it!
There is little doubt that the present national and international exposure of our quiet little county is going to cause federal authorities to take notice. If they determine that further investigation of the current situation is warranted, they will initiate grand jury proceedings. Those closed door hearings will not be limited to the present situation that has caused us such negative exposure. What we should fear most is that other exposed skeletons will draw us into an even more dismal abyss.
Rarely can one claim, “I can feel your pain.” I can, and it hurts, badly.
Ben Rich, former SJC Commissioner (and Commission Chairman)

IN HAEC VERBA: "A Death in St. Augustine" (November 26, 2013) -- Transcript of PBS Frontline documentary on the St. Johns County Sheriff, David Shoar, and his conflicted, amateurish and incredbly insensitive non-investigation of the death of Ms. Michelle O'Connell, a deputy's girlfriend, shot with his service weapon September 2, 2010

A Death in St. Augustine

Glenn Silber
Frank Koughan


Walt Bogdanich


Glenn Silber and Walt Bogdanich


Glenn Silber

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE, a 911 call from an off-duty officer.

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: My girlfriend just shot herself!

ANNOUNCER: Did his girlfriend commit suicide─

PATTY O’CONNELL, Mother: I saw him be rough with her in my house.

ANNOUNCER: ─or was it a homicide?

BRAD KING, State Attorney, Florida: There was not sufficient evidence a crime had been committed.

ANNOUNCER: In an exclusive report with The New York Times─

WALT BOGDANICH, New York Times: Are you saying that you believe that Michelle might have been battered before the fatal shot was fired?

PETER DE FOREST, Forensic Scientist: Yes.

ANNOUNCER: ─FRONTLINE investigates this troubling case.

VERNON GEBERTH, Fmr. NYPD Homicide Commander: You can’t possibly investigate a member of your department the same way you investigate an average case.

BRAD KING: There is a visceral sense of, “What if she was murdered and this guy goes free?” There ought to be at least some visceral sense, “What if she did commit suicide and he’s in prison for the rest of his life?


CIARA MORRIS, Friend: He was never treated like a suspect, he was treated like brother.

ANNOUNCER: ─ A Death in St. Augustine.

JENNIFER CRITES, Sister: Michelle was the youngest of all of us, of six. And she was the one that we always looked out for. She was an amazing athlete. She loved to swim. She could climb a tree faster than anybody. Michelle was very fun-loving. She was very outgoing.

CIARA MORRIS, Friend: I mean, Michelle just embraced life.

JENNIFER CRITES: She loved being a mom, even though she was a single mom. She made the best out of that situation. She worked two jobs, sometimes three jobs just to support Alexis.

CIARA MORRIS: Michelle went skydiving one time, and before she could go, she had to write a letter to Lexi just in case something was to happen to her.

READER: “My life began after having Alexis, and the love I have for her could never be measured. But I want to make sure that if something does happen to me that Alexis will be loved, safe, happy, praised and protected. I don’t like thinking about it because I plan on being here for Alexis for a long time.”


JEREMY BANKS: Hey! Please get someone to my house! It’s 4700 Sherlock Place. Please!

DISPATCHER: What’s going on?

JEREMY BANKS: Please! Send─ my girlfriend, I think she just shot herself! There’s blood everywhere!


JEREMY BANKS: She shot herself! Please! [unintelligible]

DISPATCHER: Ma’am? Ma’am, I need you to calm down.

JEREMY BANKS: It’s mister! It’s sir!

DISPATCHER: Ma’am, listen to me─

JEREMY BANKS: It’s sir! It’s sir. Listen─ hang on, let me tell you the truth. I’m Deputy Banks with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. I work with y’all. Get someone here now!

NARRATOR: On September 2nd, 2010, 24-year-old Michelle O’Connell died from a gunshot to the mouth. The gun belonged to her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, a deputy with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office in St. Augustine, Florida.

DISPATCHER: Everybody’s coming. Your friends are on the way.

NARRATOR: Deputy Debra Maynard was on duty that night.

DEBRA MAYNARD, Fmr. Sheriff’s Deputy: We stopped off at the Hess station around 10:00 PM. Sergeant Beaver was there with Corporal Shand and myself, and we were having some coffee. Call came out, “Signal 18, shot fired.” Immediately, when you hear that it’s a shooting involving one of your own, you know, adrenaline’s pumping. And we jumped up from the table and ran out and got in our cars and started heading down US-1.

I pulled up on this side. We noticed the door open to the house, went in through the kitchen. And first door on the left I noticed was open, is where I saw some feet laying on the floor. And I proceeded in the room, and I saw Deputy Banks crouched down by the bathroom door and a female laying on the floor, some blood dripping from her face.

There was a gun off to her left side. And I noticed the tac light was on and the holster was just right next to the gun on the floor.

NARRATOR: Beside her on the carpet, investigators found a second bullet hole, and nearby, the shell casings.

DEBRA MAYNARD: Sergeant Beaver ordered me to go ahead and get Jeremy out of the room. I smelled a lot of alcohol on Jeremy’s breath at that point. And besides being blown away with the alcohol smell, he was just─ Ah! He was angry. He wasn’t sad, he was “Arrggghhhh!”

I had never met Michelle, so I wanted to positively ID her, and I went out in the kitchen and her purse was on the counter. I noticed there were two pill bottles with Jeremy Banks’s name on it on the top of her purse.

NARRATOR: The bottles were empty, but inside her pocket were 50 pills, including the painkiller hydrocodone.

Soon, other members of the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office, some of them off-duty, began to arrive.

Lt. TOM QUINTIERI: When I arrived, there were several units already on scene.

NARRATOR: These are law enforcement interviews with officers who were on the scene that night.

Lt. TOM QUINTIERI: And Sergeant Faircloth─ I don’t know how, but he got there very quickly, so he went to Jeremy and stayed with Jeremy the whole time. And several other deputies─ I don’t know how they found out, but everybody started showing up.

Dep. MIKE PLOTT: I went up to Jeremy, just, you know, asked him he was OK, and I, you know, advised Jeremy that, you know, I’m here for him, anything he needs.

NARRATOR: Over the next two hours, Deputy Banks, seen here in the yellow T-shirt, huddled with family and friends. He was then interviewed in a police car by his colleague, Detective Jessica Hines. His off-duty sergeant sat in on the interview.

Det. JESSICA HINES: All right, this is Detective Hines. It is officially September 3rd at 1:23 in the morning. You were outside in the yard, driveway?

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: My motorcycle’s in the garage. I was sitting on it. And I heard a pop, and I knew exactly what it was. And I ran inside. I started screaming her name. The bedroom door was locked, and I screamed her name again. I heard it go off again a second time. I ran into the living room. I grabbed the phone. I kicked the bedroom door in, and I found her laying where she is when the sheriff’s office showed up.

NARRATOR: Among the responding officers, a consensus developed: Michelle O’Connell had taken her own life.

Cpl. MARK SHAND: It appeared she had committed suicide.

OFFICER: I’m sure, yes, that the suicide word was thrown around.

Cpl. MARK SHAND: We were standing out front, discussing it, and it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

NARRATOR: And from Detective Hines, who interviewed Deputy Banks.

Det. JESSICA HINES: I didn’t have any suspicions that it was anything other than suicide. I think that’s what we were all kind of discussing, but just making sure that we covered our bases. It’s always a CYA thing, just in case it’s not what it appears to be.

DEBRA MAYNARD: At which point, Sergeant Beaver told Corporal Shand and myself to make family notifications.

PATTY O’CONNELL, Michelle’s Mother: The police come here. I was told that Michelle killed herself, and I knew that─ I said, “That’s not Michelle” because Michelle loved Alexis and she never would have left her! She would never─ it’s not right! And she should still be here today!

JENNIFER CRITES, Sister: They didn’t come to my house any later than maybe four hours after she had passed, and they were already saying that it was suicide.

CIARA MORRIS, Friend: And when I heard suicide, I mean, I was, like, “No way.” I mean, Michelle was planning her future. You know, Michelle was not planning suicide.

NARRATOR: One of Michelle’s brothers, Sean O’Connell, had been with her just hours earlier at a concert.

SEAN O’CONNELL: I’d heard that Michelle was dead and they think it was a suicide. I didn’t believe it for one bit. So my friend drives me over. About two blocks away, he drops me off, and I start walking towards Jeremy’s house. And there’s four St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office deputies, and they said, “Sean, you need to go home right now.” And I said, “I want an outside investigation. I don’t want you guys to deal with this.” He said, “No, we’re not doing that.”

NARRATOR: The next day, Michelle O’Connell’s body was delivered to the local medical examiner, Dr. Frederick Hobin. His autopsy report showed she had alcohol, but no other drugs in her system. He found that the fatal bullet had severed her spinal cord.

He also found a cut and bruise over her right eyelid and said it was caused by the ejected shell casing when the firearm was discharged.

Dr. Hobin’s ruling bolstered the assumptions made on the scene by the sheriff’s office, Michelle O’Connell had committed suicide. The medical examiner submitted his report to the sheriff.

JENNIFER CRITES: I didn’t believe that Michelle killed herself, but I believed the sheriff’s office. I believed that they investigated and they did a thorough job. I trusted the sheriff’s office opinion immediately.

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR: Hello. My name is David Shoar, your sheriff in St. Johns County, Florida.

NARRATOR: David Shoar has been elected St. Johns County sheriff three times, twice unopposed.

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR: Our core values are non-negotiable, integrity and treating people with dignity and respect.

NARRATOR: The sheriff holds one of the most powerful positions here in historic St. Augustine. He is also one of the county’s largest employers.

JENNIFER CRITES: My family, you know, worked for the sheriff’s office.

NARRATOR: Michelle’s brother, Scott, was a deputy. Her mother, Patty, worked there as a file clerk. And a year before she died, Michelle met Deputy Jeremy Banks.

JENNIFER CRITES: One of our brothers introduced Michelle and Jeremy. And at first, we were all happy. He was a deputy. You know, my mom was thrilled.

PATTY O’CONNELL: He was in a policeman’s uniform. That’s what I first noticed, was the policeman’s uniform, you know? And I said, “Oh, she sees somebody that’s going to protect her.”

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL, Sister: But as the relationship progressed, and around the time that Michelle moved in with Jeremy, he disrespected her, controlled her. I heard less and less from Michelle.

PATTY O’CONNELL: She says, “Mom, it’s getting bad.” And that was about a month or two before she died. And I said, “Just come home.”

NARRATOR: The day she died, Michelle told family and a friend she had decided to end the relationship.

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL: On September 2, 2010, Michelle came over with Alexis to have lunch. She loved this band, Paramore. I was going to watch Alexis while she went to the concert with Jeremy that night.

And I’m making lunch, and I said, “Well, what’s going on?” She was really upset. And she said, “Chris, it’s so bad.” And she just, you know, hung her head. I told her, you know, “Don’t go to the concert,” and she said, “No, I’m going to go. I bought the tickets. I’m going to go. I’m going to have a good time. But I’m breaking up with him tonight. It’s done. I’m leaving. I’m going.” And─ I’m so sorry! That was the last time I saw her!

SEAN O’CONNELL: My sister and I and my brother, we went to see Paramore in concert at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. My sister showed up later with her boyfriend. Michelle seemed really happy and excited. I was excited to go see a concert. Jeremy just looked─ like, he really─ he looked pissed off.

So at about an hour into the concert, I basically said, “Hey, do you mind scooting over so I can hang out with my sister? If you’re not going to enjoy your time with her, then I sure as heck will.” And so they switched seats, and then me and her just started rocking out and jamming in our seats and standing up and dancing and singing.

NARRATOR: During the concert, Michelle sent cryptic text messages to a number of people, including her sister, who was babysitting her daughter.

[text messages]

“Promise me one thing. Lexi will be happy and always have a good life.”

“Promise you what?”

“That no matter what, Lexi will always be safe and loved.”

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL: Obviously, I was receiving these texts that night, and I was worried. I said, “Well, she’s leaving him. There’s something going on.”

NARRATOR: As the concert ended, Michelle texted her sister one last time.

“I’ll be there soon.”

NARRATOR: Her final text was sent to her brother, Scott.

“Lexi. Never forget.”

NARRATOR: Jeremy Banks would later tell investigators that Michelle broke up with him on the way home from the concert.

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: That’s whenever she said, “I’ll have my things out by this weekend.” And I said, “Are we breaking up?” She said yes. And I was, like, “All right.” I raised my voice. She raised her voice. We argued. But when we got to the house, we were fine.

NARRATOR: A little over an hour later, Michelle O’Connell was dead.

TERESA WOODWARD, Michelle’s Employer: The day after Michelle died, I called the sheriff’s department because I wanted to talk to someone and let them know that the suicide thought was wrong.

NARRATOR: Teresa Woodward knew Michelle as happy and motivated. But Michelle’s life had not been trouble-free. As a teenager, she was put under the supervision of juvenile authorities for anger issues and depression, according to court records. But the records also show that with medication and counseling, her schoolwork and attitude had drastically improved.

And then at age 20, a life-changing event, motherhood.

TERESA WOODWARD: Michelle was all about Alexis and where she could take her and experiences she could give her and what she could do with her. She would never leave her daughter. She wouldn’t do that. I don’t know what happened, but that’s not what happened.

NARRATOR: Woodward says she had just promoted Michelle at her day care center to full-time status, with benefits.

TERESA WOODWARD: Michelle’s life was not spiraling down. She was happy with the changes she was making. The most difficult change she had to make was her personal life and her relationship with Jeremy. And she was trying to do that carefully and thoughtfully.

NARRATOR: By all accounts, their relationship was stormy. Jeremy Banks described it in an interview with Detective Hines 12 days after Michelle’s death.

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: And towards the end, we were arguing all the time.

Det. JESSICA HINES: What was it about?

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: Just stupid [expletive deleted]. Just─ that’s just how it was. It was just arguing over stupid, petty [expletive deleted].


Dep. JEREMY BANKS: It echoes in this room.

Det. JESSICA HINES: Yeah, I know.

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: I don’t really like that.

Det. JESSICA HINES: No. [laughter] Yeah, great room. Did she ever make any threats of suicide to you? Did she ever say anything?

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: A couple of months ago, maybe a month, a month-and-a-half or so, we got into a big fight. Words got heated, and I told her to pack her [expletive deleted] and get out of my house. And she was in the process of doing it, and she came at me, she tried to hit me, and I put her on the ground. She said, “Jeremy, I”─ I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I remember she said, “Sometimes you make me want to kill myself.”

Det. JESSICA HINES: And then since that time?

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: No, that was the only time she ever said anything like that.


NARRATOR: He later said Michelle told him she’d said it just to bother him. But Michelle’s family paints a darker picture of the relationship, that Banks was physically abusive, an accusation he denied in law enforcement interviews.

PATTY O’CONNELL: I saw him be rough with her in my house. He acted like he was fooling around, and he took her down, like the way police take a person down. And it was hard-core slam on the floor. And then when she complained, he immediately said, “Michelle, I’m not hurting you.” My gut feeling was that he was hurting her.

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL: He put his knee up on her stomach and pressed really hard, and slammed her. And she called me, she said, “Chrissy, I’m bleeding.” And I told her I was going to call an ambulance, and she said, “Please, you’re going to make it hard on me. Please, I don’t want any trouble.” She was so scared to go for help.

I think she may have been influenced by the fact that he would lose his job and retaliate against her.

NARRATOR: But in the wake of her death, Michelle’s family says the sheriff’s office never gave them a chance to express their concerns.

JENNIFER CRITES: They didn’t speak to our family at all. They didn’t take our statements. They didn’t ask us, you know, anything leading up to those days, how my sister was and our interactions, or did I talk to her that night? Nobody asked.

NARRATOR: Finally, several weeks after Michelle’s death, the sheriff’s point man on the case, Lieutenant Charles Bradley, met with her brothers and sisters.

Lt. CHARLES BRADLEY: So hopefully, this will give you some closure as to what occurred that night. All indications are that she was contemplating suicide, based on her texts.

NARRATOR: The family disagreed with that interpretation of her texts.

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL: I asked the night that Michelle died, I said “Am I allowed to submit a statement? Because she told me a lot of things about” ─ and I’m just going to spell it out for anyone here ─ domestic violence. She came to my house, she said “I’m leaving. I’m scared. He chokes me. He hits me in the head. He does things sexually to me, and I tell him to stop”

I said, “Am I allowed to submit an affidavit just to testify to what she said?” And he said “No, none of that. It’s all hearsay.”

SCOTT O’CONNELL: If this was the sheriff’s daughter, it’d be much different. That’s what we’re feeling.


SCOTT O’CONNELL: Because this is emotion. Our sister cannot come back. Our sister will never come back! And we have questions. And if you’re not prepared to do this, bring the next person in. You’re a lieutenant of this agency. Stand up and answer our questions!

Lt. CHARLES BRADLEY: Ease up, bro. You know I’m doing the very best I can, guys, to show you all what happened, and I feel like this is a damn inquisition on me.

SEAN O’CONNELL: It’s not against you.

Lt. CHARLES BRADLEY: I haven’t done anything wrong, guys. The sheriff’s office hasn’t done anything wrong. And I can feel at this table─

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL: We don’t know what we can─

Lt. CHARLES BRADLEY: ─that there’s a massive conspiracy theory, and there’s not one, guys.

SEAN O’CONNELL: Can I interject?

JENNIFER CRITES: What conspiracy theory are you talking about?

Lt. CHARLES BRADLEY: That Jeremy is the murderer of Michelle. OK? I keep getting that and I’ve been getting that over the last, you know, several weeks. So what we need to do, guys, is we need to─ we need to sit down and we need to just─ this is what it is and this is what happened.

NARRATOR: As far as the sheriff’s office was concerned, the case was closed.

But on the other side of the country, a solitary blogger had taken an interest in the story.

CLOUDWRITER: I came across this tiny article that said that a deputy’s girlfriend had killed herself with his service weapon.

NARRATOR: Writing under the alias “Cloudwriter,” she began asking questions.

CLOUDWRITER: My initial intention with the Michelle O’Connell case was to be sure that it wasn’t hidden. But this was not a “Let’s crucify Jeremy Banks,” this was “Let’s find out what happened.”

NARRATOR: She started her blog, “Behind the Blue Wall,” 10 years ago after a high-profile killing in Tacoma, Washington.

NEWSCASTER: In the midst of a nasty divorce from her husband, Tacoma police chief David Brame drove their children to Gig Harbor, parked near his wife’s car, shot her, then himself.

NARRATOR: The murder of Crystal Brame in 2003 brought the issue of officer-involved domestic violence to the public’s attention.

CLOUDWRITER: That day when Crystal was shot, everything changed for me. I realized I wasn’t the only one that was living afraid. I was married to a police officer, and it did get so that it wasn’t a good relationship anymore.

Since I started police domestic violence Web sites, I’ve acquired at least a thousand cases of officer-involved domestic violence. I wanted victims to see that there were other people, and I wanted departments to know that it’s out in the open now.

NARRATOR: Behind the Blue Wall became a place for Michelle O’Connell’s family and friends to vent their frustration with the sheriff’s investigation. There would eventually be about 250 comments.

JENNIFER CRITES: We had an outlet, finally, for the first time, and we were just hoping that people would see how we were being treated, what was going on, that we had questions that weren’t being answered. And we got a lot of attention, and I think that put the pressure on the sheriff to finally do the right thing.

NARRATOR: After four months of pressure from the O’Connells ─ and citing his own questions about his office’s handling of the case ─ Sheriff Shoar asked for a new investigation to be done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, FDLE, a statewide agency that is often called in when there’s a potential conflict of interest.

Michelle’s mother, Patty, was working at the sheriff’s office at the time.

PATTY O’CONNELL: We were having a meeting. Sheriff Shoar walks in, says, “They will not find anything.” I heard him say that, “They will not find anything.”

RUSTY RODGERS, FDLE Agent: I’m Special Agent Rusty Rodgers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. I’m a law enforcement officer, and I’m conducting a criminal investigation, a death investigation, into the death of your sister, Michelle O’Connell.

NARRATOR: These are audio and video interviews the lead agent, Rusty Rodgers, conducted with members of the sheriff’s department, including Michelle O’Connell’s brother, Scott.

SCOTT O’CONNELL: It felt like to us as a family that it was rushed, they had their mind made up that it was suicide, and that the investigation could have went a different way and that he knew there was things in the past that he had done that she was going to report and that it was going to come out that this─ this deputy sheriff was not the true person that he was claiming to be and that he was actually a pretty bad person to her.

NARRATOR: Many of the responding officers Rodgers interviewed agreed with the sheriff’s conclusion of suicide.

Det. EUGENE TOLBERT: There were things that─ I don’t want to say bothered me because I felt like that every time something bugged me that there was a plausible explanation, you know what I’m saying? And for her to stand still and allow somebody to put a firearm in her mouth is ridiculous. You know, I just don’t see it happening.

NARRATOR: Others weren’t so sure.

Sgt. SCOTT BEAVER: When I first walked into that room, the first thought that went through my mind was, “This is not good for Jeremy.”

RUSTY RODGERS: Did you think it went down like Jeremy said it did that night?

Sgt. SCOTT BEAVER: I don’t think so. I mean, just─ I was a little uneasy where the─ I remember seeing the shot in the floor and where the gun was. I mean, I was in the homicide unit for a few years, and it didn’t add up. But I didn’t do more investigation into this to see why things were like they were.

Dep. MIKE PLOTT: They said that they had gotten in an argument and she had pulled the gun out of a secured holster and shot herself.

RUSTY RODGERS: That seem strange to you?


RUSTY RODGERS: Explain why.

Dep. MIKE PLOTT: It’s a retention holster. Most people don’t know how to use them.

RUSTY RODGERS: Did you ever know him to have an explosive temper?

Dep. MIKE PLOTT: Oh, yes. Yeah, he’s had temper issues. You know, his temper was─

RUSTY RODGERS: [unintelligible] with you?

Dep. MIKE PLOTT: He’d drink, and he’d just get pissed. You know, he’d throw [expletive deleted] around and just throw a fit.

[ Read the “New York Times” story]

NARRATOR: The story of Michelle O’Connell caught the attention of New York Times investigative reporter Walt Bogdanich, who, working with FRONTLINE, was examining how police departments handle cases when there is the possibility of domestic violence in their own ranks.

JERRY FINDLEY, Crime Scene Expert: I’ve been involved in crime scene and crime scene reconstructions for about 41 years.

NARRATOR: We went over the case with Jerry Findley, whose findings were critical to the FDLE investigation.

JERRY FINDLEY: I was contacted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to examine the evidence in the case and see if we could determine, or if I could determine, the manner of death involved in this.

NARRATOR: Findley analyzed the evidence the sheriff’s office had collected but never sent for analysis.

WALT BOGDANICH, New York Times: Testing showed that there was no blood found on the weapon. Is that unusual, in your view?

JERRY FINDLEY: For the type of injuries she had, I found it very unusual. I would’ve expected to find some blood on the gun somewhere.

NARRATOR: Findley said he also would have expected to find some of Deputy Banks’s DNA on the gun, but there was just Michelle O’Connell’s DNA, which he found suspicious because it was Deputy Banks’s regular service weapon.

He also noted the location of the shell casings, which to him indicted that the shooter fired with the left hand. Michelle O’Connell was right-handed, Jeremy Banks is left-handed.

And as for the injury to Michelle O’Connell’s right eyelid─

JERRY FINDLEY: I think that the injury above her right eye was caused by the front sight of the weapon, which is the same size as the injury. It’s 8 millimeters.

WALT BOGDANICH: Do you believe Michelle O’Connell committed suicide?

JERRY FINDLEY: Based on the evidence that’s present, I think it’s more consistent with homicide than suicide, the physical evidence.

NARRATOR: One of the most important discoveries by FDLE was two women who said they had heard screams the night Michelle O’Connell died. The sheriff’s office had never canvassed the neighborhood after the shooting, and the women had never reported it.

STACEY BOSWELL, Neighbor: We were in the garage having a cigarette. We heard some arguing, so that’s what initially brought us even out of the garage. And we walked over here so we could─ that the arguing was coming from that direction.

WALT BOGDANICH: Over there between the two houses?

STACEY BOSWELL: Between the house and the fence. We knew it was coming right from right over there in that open patch. At first, I couldn’t tell who it was. But one voice was higher than the other one, and then one was real deep. And then we heard─ we heard a woman yell for help, and then we heard a gunshot. And then there was another yell for help and then another gunshot.

WALT BOGDANICH: And then there was silence?

STACY BOSWELL: And then there was silence. There was no commotion, no nothing. It seemed like a long─ it was probably 10, maybe 15 minutes, and the sirens came. That’s why we didn’t call anybody. I knew somebody was coming.

WALT BOGDANICH: What did you think was happening?

STACY BOSWELL: Well, I didn’t know if it was an accident or─ you know, I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew it was “Help.” Plain as plain can be, it was “Help.”

WALT BOGDANICH: What kind of “help” was it when she yelled? I mean, what was your sense of her─ her emotional─

STACEY BOSWELL: There was something wrong. Something happened, and then the gunshot. You knew something was wrong. It wasn’t─ there was nothing playful. No nothing. It was somebody that was scared.

NARRATOR: The women’s testimony was considered so important, FDLE asked the Secret Service to give them lie-detector tests. Both passed.

Agent Rodgers presented his findings to the medical examiner, Dr. Hobin, who had initially ruled Michelle’s death a suicide. Hobin said the witness accounts were so persuasive that he changed his mind. He explained to a local reporter.

Dr. FREDERICK HOBIN, Medical Examiner: Well, I became convinced that it was probably a homicide.

NARRATOR: And as he noted in this document, “I amended Michelle’s death certificate by indicating that she was shot by another person and that the manner of death was homicide.”

FDLE handed over the results of their investigation to the local prosecutor, R.J. Larizza. Investigators from his office soon asked the O’Connells’ permission to investigate even further.

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL: At one point, they say to my mother we may need to exhume my sister’s body.

PATTY O’CONNELL: And I─ immediately, I said yes because I knew─ I said, “They’re going to find something that’s missing, that they overlooked.” And they said, “Fine.” They said, “We will get in touch with you, We will give you papers that you have to sign.” Weeks go by, nobody calls me.

NARRATOR: Behind the scenes, the case was unraveling. Though he declined to be interviewed on camera, Dr. Hobin told us that Larizza asked him to hold off from filing the amended homicide finding because the case was about to take a new direction.

And then Larizza asked to be recused, citing his office’s close professional relationship with the sheriff’s office.

JENNIFER CRITES: Now, all of a sudden, he wants out of the case. And it makes us think “What’s going on? Why─ you know, why do you want out?” Nobody understood that. Why didn’t he recuse himself day one if it was a conflict of interest?

NARRATOR: We tried to talk to Larizza.

WALT BOGDANICH, New York Times: R.J. Larizza, please. It’s the O’Connell case, and it’s Walt Bogdanich from The New York Times calling. He’s not available? Is he in the building? Can you tell me that? He’s not. Can you tell me where he is, please? OK. Can you tell me why he hasn’t responded to my voicemail messages or my many emails?

NARRATOR: With Larizza off the case, Florida governor Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor. The governor cited the potential prosecution of Jeremy Banks.

BRAD KING, State Attorney, Florida: My goal and my role was to determine if I could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a homicide.

NARRATOR: State attorney Brad King relied on the opinions of three medical examiners, who all concluded it was suicide. One was Dr. Hobin, who had again changed his mind, from homicide back to suicide.

WALT BOGDANICH: Based on what your medical experts have told you, there were no defensive wounds on Michelle O’Connell. Why is that important?

BRAD KING: I think the importance of that to them was that there was no struggle.

WALT BOGDANICH: Because if there was a struggle, that might mean what?

BRAD KING: I don’t know. I don’t know what they thought about that.

WALT BOGDANICH: Fair to say that if they had found defensive wounds, that might raise questions about whether Michelle O’Connell actually killed herself?

BRAD KING: It would depend on the nature. And I─ and that’s one thing that I don’t like to do, is to speculate.

NARRATOR: King consulted with the new medical examiner who had recently taken over from Dr. Hobin.

PREDRAG BULIC, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner: I basically inherited the case from the previous medical examiner. When I reviewed the case and all the material, it became apparent to me that this was a suicide.

NARRATOR: Dr. Predrag Bulic altered the course of the investigation with a new theory explaining the injury above Michelle O’Connell’s eye.

Dr. PREDRAG BULIC: The only sound, solid forensic explanation is that the gun was upside-down and the tactical light caused that.

BRAD KING: My understanding was that it was from the recoil of the gun. And therefore, the recoil is essentially going to make the tactical light move forward into the face, as opposed to away. And that’s─ that was their opinion. That is also consistent with my years of training with firearms.

NARRATOR: After a three-month review, King called in the family.

JENNIFER CRITES: We’re in the courthouse, at a long table, Christine, my mother, my brother Scott and myself. I believed that the state attorney was going to get on board and bring charges, and we were going to walk out of that office that night, and Michelle’s death was going to be vindicated. That didn’t happen.

BRAD KING: My conclusion was that there was not sufficient evidence to believe that a crime had been committed. The evidence has to exclude any reasonable hypothesis of innocence, and point only and solely to the guilt of the defendant.

JENNIFER CRITES: I was devastated. I could not believe that this was happening. And at that point, my brother became upset and said that this was “f-ing” ridiculous, and he wanted, you know, to know how Brad King would feel, you know, having a daughter─ if something happened, you know, to his daughter, how would he feel?

NARRATOR: Because of his angry outbursts about the case, Scott O’Connell was fired from his job at the sheriff’s office.

In the end, Brad King declared Michelle O’Connell’s case closed.

BRAD KING: When you talk about this case, yes, there is a visceral sense of, “Oh, what if she was murdered and this guy goes free?” There ought to be at least some visceral sense, “What if she did commit suicide, and he’s in prison for the rest of his life?” And neither one─

WALT BOGDANICH: And that’s what juries are for, I suppose, and what─ you know─

BRAD KING: Well, they’re for that only if there is sufficient factual basis to start that process.

NARRATOR: No charges have been brought, and her death officially remains a suicide.

The shadow that lay across Michelle O’Connell’s death was the question of how effectively law enforcement investigates cases involving its own officers, especially when there is the possibility of domestic violence.

DOTTIE DAVIS: In my 32 years in law enforcement, I can probably count on these fingers the number of agencies that have actually held officers accountable and terminated their employment. It is very rare that you see an officer even prosecuted because most prosecutors don’t want to file criminal charges against an officer because they need them for their cases.

NARRATOR: Dottie Davis spent 32 years on the Fort Wayne, Indiana, police force. She says she was in a violent marriage to a fellow officer. Today, Davis talks to departments around the country about the issue of officer-involved domestic violence.

DOTTIE DAVIS: So many agencies, when I walk in, will say, “Not our agency. Not anybody here.” And the fact of the matter is, it’s estimated six to seven incidents happen before they ever call the police. But if your abuser is the police, you’re going to call his or her agency to the home to investigate?

And in today’s technology, a victim calls 911, well, guess what? Their statement’s right on the screen for every fellow officer and every friend of that officer to read, and to make a call and let him know what she just told the dispatcher and that people are responding.

WALT BOGDANICH: That’s a frightening scenario you just presented.

DOTTIE DAVIS: It’s the truth.

[ A systemwide failure?]

NARRATOR: There is no comprehensive data on the extent of officer-involved domestic violence, and nationally, there are only voluntary guidelines on how to deal with these kinds of cases. But we analyzed the policies and procedures of some of America’s largest police departments.

SARAH COHEN, The New York Times: We chose the 61 departments that had at least 1,000 officers, based on FBI data. We asked them to tell us how they handled complaints of police domestic violence. We recorded the first reaction we got from people. And there were a lot of first reactions that went, “We have no idea what you’re talking about.” And most of these respondents were sworn officers themselves and were responsible for knowing what was in their standard operating procedure.

NARRATOR: We found only one agency that had fully implemented the recommended procedures and safeguards.

In the case of Michelle O’Connell, her family believed the sheriff’s office, investigating one of its own, had blinded itself to the possibility that the shooting was a fatal case of domestic violence.

DISPATCHER: Everybody’s coming. Your friends are on the way.

NARRATOR: We asked former New York City police commander Vernon Geberth to review the sheriff’s investigation.

VERNON GEBERTH, Fmr. NYPD Homicide Commander: I have personally investigated, supervised, assessed and consulted on over 8,000 homicides.

WALT BOGDANICH: Eight thousand?

VERNON GEBERTH: Eight thousand.

NARRATOR: Geberth is the author of the widely used textbook Practical Homicide Investigation.

VERNON GEBERTH: Every death investigation should be treated as a homicide until it’s proven differently.



VERNON GEBERTH: Deputy Banks reported the case as a suicide.

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: My girlfriend─ I think she just shot herself!

VERNON GEBERTH: Friends of his responded to that.


Dep. JEREMY BANKS: She shot herself! Please!

VERNON GEBERTH: Early on, the case was being assumed to be a suicide.

Cpl. MARK SHAND: We were standing out front, discussing it, and it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Det. JESSICA HINES: I didn’t have any suspicions that it was anything other than suicide.

VERNON GEBERTH: There’s some serious red flags in the investigation. Deputy Banks should’ve been removed from the scene and brought to the station house. And the interview shouldn’t have been conducted in the police car at the scene, it should’ve been in a controlled environment.

Det. JESSICA HINES: All right, this is Detective Hines. It is─

VERNON GEBERTH: Now, his sergeant arrived at the scene and basically babysat him. And when he was finally interviewed two hours after the event, the interview takes place in a police car, with Sergeant Faircloth sitting in.

Lt. TOM QUINTIERI: Sergeant Faircloth, I don’t know how, but he got there very quickly. So he went to Jeremy and stayed with Jeremy the whole time.

VERNON GEBERTH: Since when do we invite people to sit in on an interview? I know I wouldn’t.

Det. JESSICA HINES: What did you get to drink tonight?

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: Bud Light. Big ones. [laughs]

VERNON GEBERTH: There’s no courtesy in a homicide investigation. There’s absolutely no reason in the world to have anybody sit in on the interview.

Det. JESSICA HINES: Comfy spinning chair, not the suspect chair. [laughter]

VERNON GEBERTH: I got the impression that he was treated special. I saw in the second interview on September 14th, he actually said to Detective Hines, “Oh, I checked the file and read because I wanted to see what was going on on the other side.”

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: I’ve already read the report. I know I probably shouldn’t have. I just wanted to know what─ what went down on the other side.

VERNON GEBERTH: How did he gain access to a confidential investigative report, and how come she didn’t challenge him on that? I don’t get it.

Det. JESSICA HINES: I think that covers it all. Let’s get out of this room─ echo-y room.


VERNON GEBERTH: This investigation stinks, OK? You can’t possibly investigate a member of your department the same way you investigate an average case because people know each other. There’s friends. You leave yourself open to criticism. I think that the sheriff’s office made a major mistake when they didn’t bring FDLE in immediately. Do it right the first time. You only get one chance.

[ Policing the police]

NARRATOR: Our examination also raised questions about the work of the county’s medical examiner, Dr. Bulic, whose upside-down gun theory was crucial to the outcome of the case. This is his official documentation, a cut-out photograph of the gun taped onto Michelle O’Connell’s autopsy photo.

WALT BOGDANICH, New York Times: I believe this is the only report that you had authored to back up your suicide conclusion?

PREDRAG BULIC, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner: Report?

WALT BOGDANICH: Yeah. Have you written any reports on this case?

Dr. PREDRAG BULIC: No, this is not my case. This was just out of my pure curiosity and to satisfy the many different people who came and asked about my opinion.

WALT BOGDANICH: We obtained a replica of the gun, and I’d like you to show me how you believe she held the gun. This is the gun and─

Dr. PREDRAG BULIC: I have to pull it out.

WALT BOGDANICH: I think it’s a retention holster.

Dr. PREDRAG BULIC: Apparently, we don’t know how to open this.


Dr. PREDRAG BULIC: Does anybody know how to open it?

WALT BOGDANICH: You have to push that in there, and then push forward, and then it comes up. But before I do that, what makes you think Michelle O’Connell would do any better than you just did in trying to get this out of a retention holster?


WALT BOGDANICH: You have to know what you’re doing to get it out.

Dr. PREDRAG BULIC: Eventually, you would─ eventually, you would figure out─ if you gave me long enough, I would have probably─ no, but I mean, I see your point. And that doesn’t mean that even child cannot pull that by accident.

WALT BOGDANICH: Why don’t you show us how you believe she held the gun when she shot herself.

Dr. PREDRAG BULIC: The muzzle was in the mouth. The tactical light was aiming towards the─ the right eye. And this is the way that I believe that the suicide occurred.

NARRATOR: We went to New York’s prestigious John Jay College of Criminal Justice to have forensic scientists Peter De Forest and Pete Diaczuk go over Dr. Bulic’s work.

WALT BO GDANICH: Is this an impressive document, in your view?

PETER DE FOREST, Forensic Scientist: No.

WALT BOGDANICH: How would you describe it?

PETER DE FOREST: Amateurish.

PETER DIACZUK, Forensic Scientist: The scales here are not correct. The error is huge. And that would not allow that injury to be caused by the discharge of the firearm.

NARRATOR: We also asked them to test the theory advanced by Brad King that Michelle’s eye was wounded by the gun recoiling forward.

PETER DE FOREST: The idea of it recoiling forward is absurd. You know, basically, it appears to be an attempt to explain the wound without considering the possibility of antecedent physical violence.

PETER DIACZUK: In my use of firearms, it defies the laws of physics to have the gun go forward after it’s shot. I did, in fact, fire the gun and document it using high-speed photography. It simply confirmed the only movement post-discharge is rearwards, not forwards.

I’m not saying that the tactical light could not have made that injury. I’m saying that it did not make that injury at the same time that the fatal shot was fired.

WALT BOGDANICH: And that’s important because?

PETER DIACZUK: Well, if it made the injury in advance, that could’ve been some sort of an aggression taking place against the victim.

WALT BOGDANICH: So you actually used the real gun. You held it upside-down. What happened to you?

PETER DIACZUK: I set up the shot to fire it. At discharge, the slide came back and─

Ow! Damn it, that hurt!

This slide comes back incredibly fast and has two very sharp edges on the bottom rail. There would be at least one, if not two, gouges in the operator’s hand.

NARRATOR: Michelle O’Connoll had no such injuries on her hands. But she did have that cut on her eyelid.

PETER DE FOREST: The attempt is being made to explain the wound as resulting from that moment when the shot is fired, and discounting the idea of these being due to violence that took place before the shooting.

WALT BOGDANICH: Are you saying that you believe that Michelle O’Connell might have been battered before the fatal shot was fired?


NARRATOR: For nine months, we made repeated visits to Florida, requested and reviewed thousands of pages of documents─

WALT BOGDANICH: I want to inquire about my Open Records request.

1st CLERK: What’s your name?

WALT BOGDANICH: It’s Walt Bogdanich.

NARRATOR: ─and attempted to interview most of the key participants.


2nd CLERK: Hi. How are you?

WALT BOGDANICH: Nice to see you again. I filed a request and I haven’t heard anything back. Do you know why?

SUPERVISOR: No. You’ll have to call the attorney.

NARRATOR: And repeatedly, we asked Sheriff David Shoar for an on-the-record, on-camera interview to discuss our unanswered questions. But he declined, saying in this letter that he didn’t want to participate in a story that “will create doubt about Deputy Banks.”

NEWSCASTER: Today, the St. Johns County sheriff fired back─

NARRATOR: But the sheriff did release to the press a 153-page report on the case.

NEWSCASTER: Shoar told us this is not a case where he’s trying to protect his own.

NARRATOR: He conceded his office had made mistakes, among them that Jeremy Banks should not have been interviewed in a police car on the scene─

Det. JESSICA HINES: What did you get to drink tonight?

Dep. JEREMY BANKS: Bud Light. Big ones. [laughter]

NARRATOR: ─that the neighborhood should have been canvassed─

STACEY BOSWELL: And then we heard a gunshot─

NARRATOR: ─the O’Connell family should have been interviewed─

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL: Am I allowed to give a statement?

NARRATOR: ─and the evidence collected at the scene should have been analyzed.

Despite the errors, he insisted that his conclusions were right, and he accused FDLE and its lead agent, Rusty Rodgers, of serious misconduct in the case.

RUSTY RODGERS: I am special agent Rusty Rodgers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement─

NARRATOR: The sheriff claimed Rodgers was careless and reckless in his methods, used false and misleading information, and coached witnesses.

STACEY BOSWELL, Neighbor: I was not coached by anybody. He was nothing but professional. I only spoke to him a handful of times, and he was professional every time I spoke to him.

NARRATOR: The sheriff took particular pains to discredit the two women, among other things alleging they are regular marijuana smokers and couldn’t recall if they had been smoking that night

STACEY BOSWELL: Totally false. Completely. Nothing was ever said to us about any kind of drugs or alcohol.

NARRATOR: And Shoar also hired two former law enforcement officers, one an acquaintance, to review his report. And both agreed, based solely on what they read, that Rodgers’s investigation was flawed. As a result of the sheriff’s report, Agent Rodgers was put on paid leave while FDLE and a prosecutor investigate.

FDLE declined to comment, and Agent Rodgers was not permitted to speak us. But perhaps the most surprising twist of all, Michelle’s brother, Scott, claiming he was misled by Agent Rodgers, suddenly sided with the sheriff. We wanted to speak to him, but he declined.

And this summer, nearly three years after Michelle O’Connell died, Sheriff Shoar gathered his department at a resort hotel for an annual meeting that became a show of support for Jeremy Banks, and an announcement about Michelle’s brother, Scott.

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR: We also, of course, have Jeremy Banks with us. And all of you know Jeremy because you’re a co-worker. And his parents─ I’ve known them both of them for many, many, many years. Also with Jeremy is Scott O’Connell, who used to be employed at the sheriff’s office. Scott’s going to come back to work as a member of this agency.

There may be some of you in this room who have doubts about this case─ “I don’t know, man. I think it was a homicide.” Jeremy Banks had nothing to do with that case. I’d stake a 33-year career on it.

We had people that responded that night to that scene, and you know, they were right that night and they’re still right. This guy right here came so damn close to being charged with homicide, based on nothing, absolutely nothing!

JENNIFER CRITES: Losing Michelle has─ you have a distrust for law enforcement now. I surely have a distrust for Sheriff Shoar now.

CHRISTINE O’CONNELL: It may be 20 years, but eventually, we will have justice for my sister and for her daughter.

PATTY O’CONNELL: My granddaughter doesn’t have a mother anymore. My children don’t have their sister anymore. We have a right to stand up for Michelle. We have a right. And we have a duty. Her life was very special.

NARRATOR: As for Jeremy Banks, after a year’s paid administrative leave, he has returned to active duty. He did not respond to our requests for an interview. He is now suing FDLE and Agent Rodgers, accusing them of violating his civil rights.

Sheriff DAVID SHOAR: I’ve never stood up in the past and claimed to be right 100 percent of the time. In fact, I’m right maybe 60 percent, if I’m lucky. But on this issue, I’m right. And by me standing up here and having this conversation with you, I’m doing what I can to take care of him. And I’m going to ask that Jeremy and Scott stand up. Would you two stand up? Let’s give these two guys a hand.