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Lawsuit accuse former deputy of making bogus DUI arrests

TAMPA — A man who says he was wrongly jailed for driving under the influence has sued the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, Sheriff David Gee and a deputy who was later fired after questions arose about his arrests.

Robert Reed, 44, is seeking damages for his claims of battery, false imprisonment, negligence and insurance fraud.

In his lawsuit, Reed says the former deputy, Daniel Brock, arrested him even though he performed well on field sobriety tests. Reed also says the Sheriff's Office already knew by then that Brock had a history of improper conduct with DUI arrests.

On Feb. 11, 2006, Reed had stopped to look for oncoming traffic before turning onto Lithia Pinecrest Road from Fishhawk Boulevard. Brock passed Reed on the right to also make a right-hand turn and collided with Reed's truck in the process, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday by attorney Ralph Fernandez.

Brock then conducted a DUI investigation in the rain. Reed performed field sobriety tests but refused to take a breath test after Brock grew verbally abusive, the suit said.

The deputy was fired in May 2007 after an internal review by the Sheriff's Office concluded that he arrested 58 people with blood-alcohol content below the legal threshold, often without evidence of suspicious driving behavior or video to back his accusations.

Reed didn't know of that record when he pleaded to a lesser charge of reckless driving in April 2006. After news of Brock's behavior came out, a judge set aside Reed's plea and sentence, and the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office dropped the case.

The accident report by another deputy indicated that no one was injured in the crash. But according to the lawsuit, Brock filed a claim against Reed's auto insurance policy and received $750 for bodily injuries.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said she could not comment on pending litigation.

Lawsuit accuse former deputy of making bogus DUI arrests 02/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 13, 2009 12:25am]
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