Tag Archives: mike scott

LCSO Deputy Fired for Excessive Force

This came out a couple days ago, but I haven’t had a chance to write it up. A deputy with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was dismissed after a complaint about excessive force. The internal affairs investigation actually cited him for several things, including not being forthcoming in his report of the incident. He pulled a woman out of her car at gunpoint, while the car was still in gear, and she ended up being dragged along side it for a moment. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

While this isolated incident pales in comparison to the recent wave of suspensions after the city-commissioned audit of Fort Myers PD, it is nonetheless disturbing. The encouraging thing is that we are not talking about a cover, rather that the deputy had consequences for his actions. Sheriff Mike Scott has shown time and again that he will act swiftly to punish misbehavior to protect the reputation of his department, particularly when there is any indication of dishonesty from his team. That’s the first step in building a strong reputation and confidence in the community.

Also troubling is that the woman’s attorney indicated to NBC2’s Jaclyn Bevis that there were not made aware that another witness had come forward, nor that there was an internal affairs investigation on the case. That sort of information is known as “Brady” material: which must be turned over to the defense. The failure to turn that over in discovery is likely a violation, and could result in the conviction being thrown out. The woman involved did get a reduced charge from DUI to reckless driving, which was already probably due to the arresting deputy’s aggressive behavior.

Fox4 has uploaded the raw video:

Both Sievers Murder Suspects were in Florida at the Time of the Murder

Curtis Wayne Wright & Jimmy

Curtis Wayne Wright & Jimmy “The Hammer” Rodgers

Wink News is reporting that the Sheriff’s office has confirmed that not only was Jimmy Rodgers in Florida at the time of the murder (though, not at his brother’s graduation, as he apparently told his employer,) but Curtis Wayne Wright was in Florida with him. Apparently they were both confirmed to have gone to a local Wal-Mart, and may have purchased something related to the crime, though the Sheriff is still mum on what that may have been.

That puts both suspects in Florida, though Curtis Wright’s attorney in Missouri has denied that his client had anything to do with the crime, saying the evidence will show Wright did not participate in the crime. He hasn’t been convicted yet, but the circumstantial evidence is damning: he’s the connection between Sievers and Jimmy “The Hammer” Rodgers, and now we know he traveled to Florida with Rodgers at the time of the murder. That doesn’t prove his guilt, but there is a lot of smoke not to have a fire.

Full Coverage of the Sievers murder case.

NBC Caught Up with Dr. Sievers’ Husband

Theresa Sievers

Theresa Sievers

NBC-2 caught up with Mark Sievers, the husband of the Bonita Springs doctor that was murdered a couple months ago. He has been laying low recently, but NBC found him outside his late wife’s former practice. Unsurprisingly, all he said was “No comment.”

To recap, Dr. Theresa Sievers was brutally murdered in her home in Bonita Springs. At the time, her husband and family were out of town. About a week ago, two arrests were made, and two men from Missouri have been charged in her murder. There is evidence that at least one of those men, Jimmy Rodgers, traveled to Florida at the time of her murder, and he has now admitted to it as a violation of his Federal probation on illegal gun possession charges.

The other man, Curtis Wayne Wright, was a childhood friend of Mark Sievers. Sievers has not been named as a suspect in the murders, nor as a person of interest. However, Sheriff Mike Scott has made it clear that the case is still open and the investigation continues. He has given several interviews, and declined to name Mr. Sievers as a person of interest. However, he would not rule it out on behalf of Mr. Sievers, or anyone else in the “envelope of suspicion.”

Here’s the thing that drives speculation… the major questions about the case that have gone unanswered, so far. For instance, why would Mark Sievers’ good friend commit the murder, or recruit his friend to do so? What motive do either of those men have. So far, the only known connection is their connection to Mark. There has been no indication that there was a robbery or burglary; the suspects have only been charged with murder, as far as we know. Further, Rodgers told friends that he was going to make $10,000 for his trip to Florida: where was that money coming from?

More Details Emerge in Dr. Sievers’ Murder in Bonita Springs

Curtis Wayne Wright

Curtis Wayne Wright

Apparently the suspects that have been arrested in the murder of Bonita Springs doctor Theresa Sievers have been on the radar of law enforcement for some time. Wink News reports that neighbors of the suspects in Missouri reports that Wayne Wright’s home was raided by SWAT teams back in July, around two weeks after the murder. The home of the other suspect, Jimmy Rodgers, was raided last week.

Jimmy Rodgers,

Jimmy Rodgers, “The Hammer”

The Naples News reports that Rodgers told friends he was going out of town for some business that was going to earn him $10,000… though they spoke to his regular job who indicates he was off work during the time of his trip. The trip coincided with the date of Sievers’ murder. The Naples News also reports that the Sheriff has not revealed a motive, and that the arrest report should be released soon.

Curtis Wayne Wright has not waived extradition, and awaits a hearing in Missouri. Rodgers must await serving his time on a Federal parole violation.

UPDATE: Both suspects were reportedly in Florida.

Full Coverage of the Sievers murder case

UPDATE: Man in Custody: Possible Arrest Warrant in Murder of Theresa Sievers, Holisitic Doctor that was Murdered in June

Theresa Sievers

Theresa Sievers

NBC-2 is reporting that there is a warrant awaiting a signature from a judge to make an arrest in the brutal Bonita Springs murder of Dr. Theresa Sievers. They are also reporting that Lee county officers have been in Missouri, recently. Details have been scarce, but Sheriff Mike Scott previously indicated there is evidence the murder was not random.

UPDATE: A man, who may have been a professional hitman, has been arrested in Missouri.

Another Big Drug Bust in Lee County

LCSO and Sheriff Mike Scott are clearly making an ongoing, concerted effort to crack down on drug dealing. The latest busts were from an ongoing sting operation in Bonita Springs.

If you are accused of a crime, exercise your rights. Talk to an attorney right away!

A Lee County Deputy is Taking Heat for Snatching a Phone / Video

This hit the news a few weeks ago, but it recently came to Crimcourts’ attention. The YouTube video of the Fox 4 story is now up to more than 50,000 views, and multiple stories on PINAC, a blog dedicated to exposing government abuses of photographers.

Phone Footage, from Fox4.com

Phone Footage, from Fox4.com

A man, who doesn’t want his name released for fear of retaliation, was pulled over by LCSO deputies. He says he has been pulled over many times by law enforcement. He was lawfully carrying a firearm, and informed deputies as much. Deputies used a K-9  to conduct a a sniff (a “free-air search”) around the vehicle, and the dog reportedly alerted to possible contraband, though nothing was ever found. After he was pulled out of the vehicle, he decided to record deputies while they were conducting the search. One of the deputies approached him, said that he didn’t want him calling anyone, and took the phone out of his hand.

Before I continue, let me make it clear. The man was well within his rights to record the deputy. He was not doing anything unlawful. Attorney David Shestokas, who was quoted in the Fox story, is absolutely correct. The PINAC blog I mentioned above is dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals to record law enforcement. The Sheriff’s Office has acknowledged this on their Facebook page. Thanks to the proliferation of smart phones and other recording devices, we all get to be government watchdogs. Government officials often don’t like citizens watching over their shoulders.

The Sheriff’s Office has responded in a couple of ways to the media, and social media scrutiny, from this incident. Sheriff Scott wrote a response to Fox 4 reporter Liza Fernandez, which is posted in their online story about the incident. Subsequently, LCSO released a press release to “set the record straight” about the incident. I encourage you to read everything in full to better understand the incident. Bascially, LCSO argues 2 grounds to justify the seizure of the man’s phone, both centering on officer safety concerns. 1. That the phone may have been used to summon other people to the scene, and 2. That the cell phone may have been a firearm in disguise.

First, the deputy says on tape that his specific concern was that he didn’t want the man to call other people. That does not give him the right to take the phone. While the man may have been lawfully detained, and the deputies have have had cause to search his vehicle, they did not have a right to seize his phone, even temporarily. If this were sufficient justification, every time cops pulled somebody over, they could seize their phone. Nope. More than that, since he wasn’t under arrest or in custody, he would be allowed to call somebody. Moreover, he would have an absolute right to call an attorney, had he chose to do so. The seizure of the phone raises Sixth Amendment concerns in addition to First Amendment concerns. Also, the excuse utterly fails because the man wasn’t calling anyone, he was recording the search.

Secondly, the excuse that the cell phone could have been a gun is thin. The deputy on the video doesn’t think it was a gun, he expresses the other concern, that it would be used for a call. Fox 4 prety thoroughly broke down the concern over cell phone guns in their investigative piece. That said, if the deputy had a concern that it was a gun, WHICH HE DID NOT, that concern would not have justified taking the phone and turning off the recorder. IF there was a legitimate concern, such concern only would have justified briefly taking the phone to see if it was a gun. ‘What, oh… your taping on a smart phone which is clearly not a weapon. Sorry, he’s your phone back.’ Frankly, it is misleading to suggest the deputy took the phone because it could have been a weapon, because he is on tape stating otherwise.

The LCSO press release correctly points out that there are limitations and exceptions when law enforcement may legitimately seize a phone or to restrict recording. The irony is that NONE OF THE LISTED REASONS WERE PRESENT. Recording did not threaten the officer or interfere with his duties. The recording did not violate the law. The deputy was not holding it to obtain a warrant, nor did it hold evidence of a crime. In fact, the deputy limited the evidentiary value by turning a recorder off. Finally, there was no exigent circumstance (e.g. imminent danger or destruction of evidence) to support seizing the recording.

The individual in this case does not make himself more sympathetic by not being up front with the officers about his business. He should not have said anything, he is within his rights not to speak, but not to provide false information. However, that’s a red herring, because his lack of candor did not justify the seizure of the phone. David Shestokas suggests that it may have been a battery for the deputy to take the phone. I submit that the definition of theft in Florida includes temporarily depriving someone the use or benefit of their property.

The deputy was not legally justified to seize the phone, even if he gave it back after he completed his detention. Also, there is a Second Amendment concern with this encounter, because the deputies seized his firearm, albeit temporarily, to check to see if it was stolen. The fact that someone is lawfully carrying a weapon does not give the cops grounds to seize it. The fact that is getting lost in this whole debate is that the stop itself looks like a profiling and/or harassment stop. Why did deputies call in the dogs for a stop sign violation, unless they were playing a hunch on this guy? There might be more going on, but the actions sure look shady.

What I’d like to see in this circumstance is when somebody turns on a recorder, that a law enforcement officer says something like:  ‘Great! You can tape the encounter to see that I am legally justified.’ As it is, it’s troublesome that a minority of deputies (and officers) in Lee County have video recorders in their vehicles. It would increase the confidence in law enforcement if more citizen encounters were recorded. It would take guesswork out of hearings in the courtroom if there were more recordings. On the whole, recordings would help prosecutors, because motions to suppress would not be challenged on the word of the accused. This guy says he was being harassed, but a video could show that deputies were acting properly. I’m afraid this incident will encourage cops to grab phones all the time on some BS claim. However, I hope that our local law enforcement uses this as a teaching moment that people have a right to record, and that videos can be good for everyone, law enforcement included. You have nothing to worry about… unless you have something to hide.

Original Fox4 Story

Another LCSO Deputy Fired, for Lying

Former Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy, Sgt. James Magas, was fired last week for insubordination, essentially lying. He left his assigned duty area, and then lied when he was questioned about his location. The good news is that Sheriff Mike Scott continues to hold his employees accountable if they are derelict in their duties. He has consistently punished untruthfulness at LCSO. The sad thing is, that it is another example of how some cops will lie, even over rather silly little things.


Lee Sheriff’s Office is Being Sued for Unnecessary Tasering of Innocent Woman

Sarah Graham has been accused of no crime, and the Naples News found no record of criminal history. She was stopped by a deputy-in-training and he asked to search  her. When she responded that she knew her rights and declined to search, the deputy didn’t take it very well. She alleges that she started to leave and he proceeded to Tase her until she collapsed to the ground, and that he tased her again while she lay on the ground convulsing. The deputy, Brian Gardner, was subsequently reprimanded for improper use of non-deadly force, and reassigned from road training to the corrections department.

First, Ms. Graham is absolutely correct. She has a right to decline being searched. While a deputy may engage in a consensual encounter if he has no reasonable suspicion of a crime going on, the key word is consensual. He can only talk to someone as long as they consent to continue the encounter. They  have a right to walk away, and he has a duty to let them go. Cops frequently don’t understand this. The report indicates he was reprimanded for his use of force. Secondly, he should also have been reprimanded for the illegal detention that he attempted. Ms. Graham has a strong suit against the department and Mr. Gardner, though I don’t know if her injuries warrant the maximum, which she is requesting.

A friend who was formerly in law enforcement feels that tasers can be the worst tool available to police. Where high restraint must be used before an officer is justified in using a firearm (deadly force), a much lower bar can be used to argue justification for a taser. That leads to officers overusing the taser, and freqently, as there are often no consequences. I applaud Ms. Graham for seeking to impose consequences for this dereliction of duty.

Nicholas Christie

Nicholas Christie

This lawsuit comes right on the heels of another lawsuit that was just settled by LCSO. They paid a “substantial” unnamed settlement to the family of Nicholas Christie, who was pepper sprayed to death while restrained to a chair in the Lee County Jail. Sheriff Mike Scott indicated that money will be paid by insurance. Both these cases represent substantial legal expenses that find their was from our tax dollars, either through legal fees, insurance premiums, or costly payouts. Both represent failures in training and restraint by the deputies sworn to protect us. Also see the story from a few days ago about the Collier deputy who punched a guy after he surrendered.



UPDATE: Settlement is for 4 million dollars. See link in the comments…

Sheriff Mike Scott May Have Issued His Own Angry, Ranting Press Release

John Rupolo, who has been let go by Fox 4

John Rupolo, who has been let go by Fox 4

Former Fox 4 reporter John Rupolo was arrested early this morning in Lee County for a violation of an injunction. This wouldn’t normally be the kind of news I’d cover on Crimcourts, except my sources have indicated that Sheriff Mike Scott took it upon himself to send a ranting email to several media contacts in Southwest Florida. Scott has had a chilly relationship with the media, in particular the News-Press, and he singles out one of their former reporters in his “Press Release.” It really comes across as a person beef, as opposed to informational. It’s sarcastic in tone, and such press-releases would generally be handled by LCSO’s public information office. There is concern that this reflects poorly on Scott’s professionalism. On the other hand, it’s good that he is communicating with the media. The purported email from Scott was forwarded to Crimcourts, and I will post it below. Fox 4 indicates that Rupolo has been let go.

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott

The following email is reportedly from Sheriff Mike Scott:

Subject: High-Profile Inmate

I would imagine you know by now that John Rupolo is in our corner (the corner of MLK and Monroe) following his early morning arrest for violating a Domestic Violence Injunction for Protection.  He has a $15,000 dollar bond and may miss your 6 o’clock broadcast.  You and your media counterparts copied here are always very quick to publicize arrests of high-profile folks like athletes, teachers, coaches, firemen, cops, and even former Commissioner Bigelow’s young friend.  Heck, I recall a recent instance where the News-Press reported on the arrest of a “former Deputy” who had not been employed as such for more than ten (10) years.

Attached for reference is the criminal history of former News-Press buffoon Larry Alan Cook aka Sam Cook and I recall a notable absence of media coverage when I exposed Larry to you last year and just before he retired.  Granted, his crimes (including leaving a human being on the roadside after striking him with his vehicle in a drunken stupor) were some time ago; however, it may have been of interest to our community that he hid behind an alias for all those years and begged the question and high likelihood that the News-Press knew that their critical watchdog was a former felon himself…the ultimate hypocrisy.

Anyway, I will be interested to see how or if the arrest of this high-profile, local critic John Rupolo is covered by you and your counterparts copied here.  Maybe you can even solicit public opinion?  You know, accost people in a Publix parking lot and ask them what they think until you find a couple that fit well for your spin or perhaps invite online comments to gin up some controversy.  Either way, I am sure you will give this high-profile arrest its due because you media types always call it as you see it; fair and balanced.  I notice it’s not on your website yet.

Happy Friday,