BROOKSVILLE — A Brooksville police captain has been arrested on a charge of misdemeanor battery in connection with a fight at a Christmas party last month.
Capt. Rick Hankins, 39, turned himself in at the Sumter County Detention Center on Friday and was immediately released on $500 bail.
The Tampa Bay Times reported last month that Hankins was under investigation after Fred Taclik, a guest at a Dec. 21 party hosted by a Spring Hill physician, accused Hankins of attacking him without provocation. Hernando County sheriff's deputies were called and on Dec. 23 got a warrant for Hankins' arrest.
Hankins' boss, police Chief George Turner, met with Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis later that day and "relayed unconfirmed reports that additional information, evidence and/or testimony might be available that could impact the investigation," sheriff's spokeswoman Denise Moloney said in a media release Monday.
Nienhuis assigned a detective to continue the investigation. In the meantime, the Sheriff's Office said last month, the warrant was "withdrawn." On Monday, the media release said that "the execution of the warrant was delayed." The inquiry concluded Friday.
"There was no information obtained during the investigation that contradicted the affidavit to obtain the warrant," Moloney said. "Therefore, Captain Hankins' attorney was contacted, and arrangements were made to have the warrant served."
Moloney declined to provide an arrest report, saying the case was still open. Detectives have turned over the findings to the State Attorney's Office. Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson said his office expects to make a decision this week on whether to move forward with the charges.
The Monday after the party, Hankins submitted to Turner a memo offering his account, along with a photo of his scraped forehead and a statement from his wife that supported his account.
According to that account, Hankins and his wife were at Spring Hill physician Brian Kroll's party that Saturday night. About 1 a.m. Sunday, Hankins said, he and Taclik exchanged words and Taclik punched him. The men scuffled briefly, and Hankins and his wife left.
Taclik is a corrections officer in Sumter County, and he and Hankins are longtime acquaintances.
Turner said that neither man was seriously injured and that Hankins was unaware deputies had been called until Turner contacted him early Sunday morning.
Hankins, a 17-year veteran of the force, will remain on active duty at least until the State Attorney's Office has decided whether to file charges, Turner said Monday.
"He's innocent until proven guilty," the chief said. "I'm very comfortable with the State Attorney's Office looking into it, weighing both sides of the account and coming to an independent, fair decision."
Hankins' attorney, Ellis Faught of Brandon, said Hankins disputes the allegations. Faught declined to offer more details.
"We're certainly looking forward to defending the case," Faught said.
Tony Marrero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.