Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Former Pinellas deputy's record reveals string of brutality complaints

LARGO — Richard Farnham was hired as a deputy by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in 2000 when Everett Rice was sheriff. He resigned in disgrace in 2007 under Sheriff Jim Coats.

From hiring to evaluations to discipline, supervisors had multiple chances to discern that Farnham was a risk. Some of these same supervisors now occupy key positions with Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

No single citizen complaint was blatant enough to disqualify Farnham as an officer. But taken as a group, they suggest an officer with a pattern of losing control.

Here is a sampling.

January 2002: Farnham arrested a Naples man who kicked the van of a woman who had hit and dragged his dog. The man said he was handcuffed in Farnham's office when the deputy rammed his head into a bookshelf and said, "This is my town. I am in charge here. . . . Don't you ever raise your voice in my office again.''

A deputy who witnessed the exchange said the man was erratic and cursing and jumped out of his chair at Farnham. Farnham said he pushed the man into the bookcase as a defensive maneuver.

Farnham was disciplined for not reporting his use of force.

April 2002: Farnham stopped a Largo woman with three young children in her car for an expired license tag. Flustered, she threw the owner's manual and other documents out the window, hitting Farnham in the chest. Farnham handcuffed her and put her in the back of his cruiser for a while, leaving her children, ages 6 months to 8 years, in her SUV with the windows rolled up.

In her complaint, the woman wrote that Farnham scared her children by saying he was taking her and them to jail. She also said he remarked that it "must be nice not to have to work and drive a $40,000 car. . . . I can't drive a $40,000 car.''

Her 8-year-old testified that the children waited for about 20 minutes in the SUV until another deputy rolled one window halfway down. "Me, my brother and my sister were crying. The windows were all up,'' he said.

Sgt. Greg Handsel — now a captain in charge of internal affairs — found the woman's story "not credible,'' noting that she cursed in front of her children and exaggerated how much time passed during the incident.

Farnham was not disciplined. Handsel declined comment for this story.

September 2004: Farnham Tasered Daniel Thompson in the Panhandle.

January 2005: Farnham put a Largo man in a cruiser, handcuffed, during an arrest for obstruction and disorderly conduct. The man was drunk, cursing and threatening officers. He complained that Farnham Tasered him twice for no reason.

Farnham wrote that he first fired the Taser when the man tried to get out of the cruiser and had put both feet on the ground. After the man slumped toward the inside of the car, Farnham wrote, "he then made derogatory comments, wouldn't cooperate and was Tased again."

Farnham never reported the Tasering until the man complained five days later. Farnham was disciplined for not filing an immediate report, as required.

October 2005: Farnham and another deputy told a Clearwater homeowner to turn down the music at his backyard party. The other deputy said the man tried to push him out the front door, then ran back through the house toward the back door. Farnham, who was in the house, Tasered the homeowner, who tumbled into the back yard. Farnham said the man then tried to get up and was Tasered again.

Farnham was not disciplined. The man sued the Sheriff's Office and won a settlement.

May 2006: Farnham stopped a man who had reportedly brandished a gun in a bar fight. When the man refused several orders to get on the ground, Farnham Tasered him.

The man complained that Farnham then asked him, "How did that feel?'' When he answered, "mild but effective,'' Farnham Tasered him again. He said Farnham and another deputy then exchanged high-fives.

Both deputies denied any such celebration. Farnham said the man was Tasered the second time because he refused to roll onto his abdomen to be handcuffed.

Farnham was not disciplined.

During this and other 2005 and 2006 cases, current chief Deputy Daniel Simovich ran the patrol division and received copies of internal affairs reports on Farnham.

Simovich declined to comment for this report.

Comments
Forecast: Tampa Bayís bitter cold snap is finally over

Forecast: Tampa Bayís bitter cold snap is finally over

Tampa Bay is finally clear of the bitter chill that covered the region this week as temperatures picked up on Saturday. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around t...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Bicyclist dead after being hit by car in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK ó A bicyclist is dead after he was hit by a car just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, police said.Police were still investigating the crash in the 8700 block of 49th Street N late Saturday morning.Police shut down northbound 49th Street...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Motorcyclist crashes into Subaru while trying to flee Pinellas deputies

CLEARWATER — A 21-year-old fleeing from deputies on a motorcycle crashed into car while speeding away from a cruiser Friday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Michael Brown, of Clearwater, was recklessly driving his 2016...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Clearwater man in critical condition after medical episode while driving

DUNEDIN — A 60-year-old Clearwater man who likely had a medical episode while driving is now in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after rolling over his car, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. A Largo police off...
Updated: 2 hours ago
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

Floridaís dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They arenít just up for debate, they...
Updated: 1 hour ago
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON ó The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trumpís inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18

High school scoreboard for Jan. 19

Fridayís scoreboardBoys soccerIndian Rocks Christian 2, Lakewood 1Lennard 3, Spoto 0Girls soccerPCAC Championship: Largo 3, Osceola 1Lennard 8, Spoto 0
Published: 01/19/18

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA ó It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Published: 01/19/18
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bayís local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bayís local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Published: 01/19/18