Tuesday, January 16, 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.

Comments
Mother of two, 42, identified as casualty after Port Richey boat fire

Mother of two, 42, identified as casualty after Port Richey boat fire

PORT RICHEY — As the boat disappeared in smoke and flames Sunday, as people leapt into the cold waters below, the neighborhood rallied. Residents helped the survivors ashore, gave them blankets and opened their homes to keep them warm.The neighbors o...
Updated: 8 hours ago

6-year-old Florida boy dies of rabies contracted from a bat

ORLANDO, Fla. — A 6-year-old Florida boy has died from rabies he contracted after being scratched by an infected bat. The father of Ryker Roque told NBC that the boy died Sunday at an Orlando hospital. Father Henry Roque said he had found a sick bat,...
Published: 01/15/18

Pinellas sheriff: Inmate, 59, found dead in county jail

CLEARWATER — A 59-year-old inmate was found dead Sunday night in the county jail, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.Johnny Mack Amons was pronounced dead at about 6:28 p.m. on Sunday, the Sheriff’s Office said, at the Pinellas County ...
Published: 01/15/18
2017 still a deadly year for Tampa Bay pedestrians, bicyclists

2017 still a deadly year for Tampa Bay pedestrians, bicyclists

Another year gone, another year that Tampa Bay was one of the most dangerous places in the country for those walking or riding their bikes.More than 100 people were killed walking in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties in 2017, according to sta...
Published: 01/15/18
Casino shuttle boat destroyed by fire as 50 passengers abandon ship in frigid Gulf

Casino shuttle boat destroyed by fire as 50 passengers abandon ship in frigid Gulf

By Jonathan Capriel, Howard Altman and Kirby WilsonTimes Staff Writers PORT RICHEY — A casino shuttle boat headed into the Gulf of Mexico caught fire Sunday, forcing 50 passengers to jump into chilly water just off a residential neighborhood. ...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/15/18

Lee County sees alarming increase in opioid overdoses

FORT MYERS — Health officials are calling attention to an alarming increase in opioid overdoses and deaths in southwest Florida.Lee County saw 955 overdose cases in 2017, eight times more than the 171 overdoses reported in 2013, according to medical ...
Published: 01/14/18

Florida fire chief quits over sexual harassment mishandling

WEST PALM BEACH — A fire rescue chief is resigning after allegations that he mishandled sexual harassment reports in his department. Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay said Saturday that fire Chief Jeff Collins’ resignation is effective next we...
Published: 01/14/18
FWC: Authorities find body of boater who went missing Saturday

FWC: Authorities find body of boater who went missing Saturday

TAMPA — Authorities have found the body of a Pinellas Park man in the water south of Rocky Point, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.Joshua Allen Ford’s body was found Sunday near his motorized canoe, according to the ...
Published: 01/14/18
Car goes airborne, slams into 2nd floor of California office

Car goes airborne, slams into 2nd floor of California office

SANTA ANA, CALIF. — Authorities say two people escaped serious injuries when the car they were in went airborne and slammed into the second floor of a dental office in Southern California.The Orange County Fire Authority says the Nissan Altima hit a ...
Published: 01/14/18
What to do in case of a nuclear attack

What to do in case of a nuclear attack

So what should you do in a nuclear missile attack? That key bit of advice was mostly missing from the mistaken alert sent out Saturday to mobile phones across Hawaii. All it said was, "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELT...
Published: 01/14/18