NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff's Office will suspend one of its deputies for five days without pay after internal affairs investigators determined she violated an agency regulation during the botched May DUI stop of Brittany Miles.
Because Deputy Ashley Grady left her cruiser's rear window down, Miles was able to escape from the back seat, flee in her pickup truck and later slam into Henry F. McCain as he pulled his motorcycle onto U.S. 19 from County Line Road, sheriff's officials said. McCain, 67, died as the 21-year-old sped away.
Investigators determined that although Miles escaped from the handcuffs Grady placed on her, the deputy followed the agency's restraint procedures. Sheriff Chris Nocco added that deputies who pursued Miles at speeds of up to 100 mph did not violate chase policy.
McCain's widow, Anita McCain, questioned the findings and said she was disappointed with how Nocco has responded to her husband's death.
"I don't see how a 100 mph chase was justified," she said. "If they say it's justified, I guess they can prove it."
During a Tuesday news conference, Nocco said he had recently tried to arrange a meeting with Mrs. McCain through a third party. She declined, she said, because the sheriff has never contacted her in person.
"I figured if he really wanted to talk to me, he would have called me," she said. "For whatever reason, he chose not to do that."
She hasn't decided if she'll sue the Sheriff's Office, but said she will contact a lawyer.
"In my mind, I'm thinking there were a lot of mistakes made and maybe if it hadn't been for all those mistakes, maybe (Miles) wouldn't have been able to do what she did," Mrs. McCain said. "At the same time, I know she's the one responsible for my husband's death."
Grady, 23, accepted her suspension, officials said. At Tuesday's news conference, Nocco stressed that although the deputy made an error, Miles caused the tragedy.
"We can second-guess everything, but I will say this: It always goes back to Brittany Miles," he said. "She's the one who decided to jump out of that window. She's the one who decided to get back in that vehicle. She's the one who decided to take prescription pills, and she's the one who decided to go down that road recklessly."
Miles, now charged in connection with McCain's death, later told Oliver Bevins Jr. she ran because she was scheduled to be in court that morning to discuss their then-2-year-old son.
After Miles left the Brass Flamingo, a Port Richey strip club where she worked as a dancer, at least three people called 911 early May 10 to report her driving erratically in a red Dodge Ram.
Just after 7 a.m., Grady pulled Miles over on suspicion of driving under the influence. Grady's partner, Deputy Christopher Greifenberger, witnessed Miles fail at least three field sobriety tests and nearly fall several times.
When Grady handcuffed Miles behind her back, she noted how thin the suspect's wrists were. The deputy placed her pinkie between the metal and Miles' skin, and then cinched the cuffs down to the point that they were "tight, but comfortable." Grady then double-locked the cuffs, which prevents the shackles from continuing to tighten on a suspect's wrists.
Greifenberger spoke several times to Miles as she waited in the back seat of a cruiser. During the last conversation, Grady forgot to roll up the window.
Miles somehow freed one hand from the cuffs, reached through the open window and pulled on the exterior handle to open the door. She then sprinted to her truck and peeled out as Grady leaped onto the running board and tried to pull the keys out of the ignition. Soon after, Grady was slung off the truck onto U.S. 19 and broke a leg.
When Greifenberger began the pursuit, Nocco said, he didn't know Grady had fallen off the truck and believed his partner was still inside it. Nocco said that, in part, prompted the pursuit.
About a mile after crashing into McCain, Miles' heavily damaged truck stopped on the roadside and Greifenberger apprehended her as she ran, deputies said.
"I don't second-guess anything that happened that day," Grady said in the report. "It happened the way it did. Unfortunately, there's … you know … there's things that I've thought about that could of … should of … would have been … but didn't happen."
John Woodrow Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1432.