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Fired Brooksville officer turns himself in

BROOKSVILLE — On Thursday of last week, authorities say, former Brooksville police officer Bryan Drinkard walked into City Hall and handed an envelope to someone in the human resources department.

The envelope contained a public records request for his ex-girlfriend Tiffany Still's personnel file. On the request's letterhead was the name of Drinkard's Brooksville attorney, Jimmy Brown. Brown's ink-stamped signature also appeared on the page.

One problem: Brown never made the request.

Drinkard, investigators say, had forged the letter and turned it in to city officials without his attorney's knowledge.

After learning what had happened, Brown, without mentioning his client's name, reported to Brooksville police that he had never requested public records concerning Still, nor directed anyone else to do that in his name.

"I am asking you to retrieve all copies of the bogus letter and the original," Brown wrote in an email, "and to return them to me at your earliest possible convenience."

Brown no longer represents Drinkard.

The previous week, police officials had suspended the 44-year-old Drinkard, ordered him to turn in his gun and his badge, and then initiated an internal affairs inquiry to investigate allegations that he had stalked, harassed and stole from Still.

Two days later, with his finger on the trigger, Drinkard walked into the Police Department lobby and placed his loaded .45-caliber Glock on the counter. The now-fired patrolman, authorities say, would later acknowledge that he was so drunk he couldn't remember dropping off the firearm. It sat, unnoticed and unsecured, for more than four minutes.

Normally, Still sits in the receptionist's chair behind a sheet of glass on the other side of the counter on which Drinkard left his gun. At that moment, she wasn't there.

Things worsened for Drinkard on March 9 when he was arrested by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and charged with burglary, grand theft and stalking in connection with the allegations made by Still.

When Drinkard was apprehended south of Brooksville that afternoon, authorities say, he had in his possession a pair of handguns and a 12-gauge shotgun, along with ammunition. He appeared intoxicated.

Drinkard, records say, had at different times stalked Still, taken jewelry and a checkbook from her home and, in one case over the past two months, arranged for a fellow officer to help him follow her.

The forged records request was just another attempt to stalk his former girlfriend, according to police Chief George Turner.

This week, Brooksville police issued a warrant for Drinkard's arrest on a charge of uttering a forged instrument.

Wednesday night, Turner said, Drinkard turned himself in at the Sumter County Sheriff's Office.

Drinkard's erratic, sometimes dangerous behavior in recent weeks has raised concerns among many people who know him, including Turner.

"I'm just hoping right now Mr. Drinkard moves on," the chief said. "I don't want to see anybody get hurt, that's for sure."

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or jcox@tampabay.com.

Fired Brooksville officer turns himself in 03/15/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 9:42pm]

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