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Deputy's record nearly spotless

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County deputy who tackled TV anchor Russell Rhodes and left him with facial bruises has an exemplary record, personnel records show.

Deputy Steven Favors, a Sheriff's Office motorcycle unit officer, has a 487-page personnel jacket filled with satisfactory performance reviews, commendations and letters from families he reassured after car crashes.

He was working off-duty Friday in the Channel District when he stopped a car driven by Fox 13's Good Day Tampa Bay host Russell Rhodes. The car left a parking garage and tried to reverse into traffic, an arrest report said.

Authorities said Rhodes tried to walk and run away before refusing to surrender his keys. He waved them away from Favors, who took Rhodes to the ground, the arrest report said.

Rhodes' jail mug circulated widely over the Internet.

The Sheriff's Office has opened an internal investigation and didn't return a call for comment Wednesday. Fox 13 continues to review the matter, the station's Web site reports. A phone message left for Rhodes, 49, wasn't returned.

He faces a charge of obstructing or opposing an officer without violence and is free on bail.

Favors has been with the Sheriff's Office since January 1988. He served eight years in the Air Force as a communications operator/technician and was called up to active duty in 2001. He left the department in 2003 and 2004 to serve 13 months as a military reservist.

In 2004, Favors was honored after he killed a suspected bank robber. The man was fleeing when authorities said he tried to run over Favors, who shot him.

In 2001, Hillsborough County Judge Elvin Martinez dressed down Favors after the judge told the Times he acted "like a jerk," waving a traffic ticket in front of a defendant's face. The incident ignited a verbal battle between the judge and then-Sheriff Cal Henderson. Martinez responded by calling the sheriff a crybaby.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Deputy's record nearly spotless 01/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 12:10am]
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