Sunday, May 27, 2018
Public safety

Hernando deputy arrested on battery, false imprisonment charges

BROOKSVILLE — A veteran Hernando sheriff's deputy was arrested Monday on charges of battery and false imprisonment.

The accusations against Deputy William C. Martinez prompted Sheriff Al Nienhuis to fire him.

The charges stem from an encounter Martinez had with a woman involved in a traffic accident early Thursday morning in Spring Hill, according to a news release issued late Monday by sheriff's officials.

The release gives this account:

Martinez, 45, responded to the single-vehicle crash near the intersection of Deltona Boulevard and Founder Road about 2 a.m. along with the Florida Highway Patrol. When the troopers completed their investigation of the accident, Martinez gave the driver a ride home.

On Friday, the woman came to the Sheriff's Office and accused Martinez of "inappropriate conduct and contact" during the ride to her home.

Martinez denied the allegations. The woman provided unspecified physical evidence that was submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for review. The results came back Monday and showed Martinez was untruthful about the encounter.

The Sheriff's Office did not release additional details.

A warrant was issued Monday for Martinez's arrest. He was booked into the Hernando Detention Center on Monday evening on charges of false imprisonment and battery, and was being held on $2,500 bail, records show.

Nienhuis fired Martinez for "immoral conduct" and "inability to give truthful testimony," the release states.

Martinez's personnel file was not available Monday, but the Tampa Bay Times reviewed the file last fall.

Martinez started with the agency in 1992 and worked as a dog handler from 1998 to May 2011. He received glowing performance reviews during that time and was promoted to canine coordinator in 2006.

The first blemish on his record came in 2010, when Martinez was suspended without pay after he failed to notify supervisors that he was given a criminal traffic summons while driving an agency vehicle in Georgia.

In 2011, internal investigations found that Martinez signed the names of two subordinates on a payroll sheet without their permission, failed to keep accurate records for the canine unit's narcotics lockers, and did not properly document his canine-training activities.

During the investigation of the last offense, Martinez made a "cascading series of misstatements" and tried to deflect responsibility, Col. Mike Maurer wrote in a disciplinary memo. He was suspended without pay for seven days and demoted from corporal to patrol deputy.

Martinez filed a federal lawsuit in 2012 claiming the Sheriff's Office failed to properly compensate him for time spent training and caring for his canine partners. A judge awarded Martinez $1,075.44, a fraction of the amount he claimed he was owed.

On his 2012 annual evaluation, his overall performance was graded "above standard." A supervisor called him an asset to the squad.

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