Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Family of slain motorcyclist gets settlement from Pasco Sheriff's Office

Henry McCain, shown here with his wife, Anita, was killed by a suspect who was being pursued by Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies in 2011.

Courtesy of the McCain family

Henry McCain, shown here with his wife, Anita, was killed by a suspect who was being pursued by Pasco County Sheriff’s deputies in 2011.

NEW PORT RICHEY — The family of Henry McCain, a 67-year-old motorcyclist killed by a suspect during a high-speed pursuit, has reached a settlement with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office for $175,000.

"You have an innocent victim who has passed away," said Jeremiah Hawkes, chief of the management services bureau at the Sheriff's Office.

Just after 7 a.m. on May 10, 2011, deputies found a drug-addicted, 21-year-old exotic dancer named Brittany Miles passed out behind the wheel of her pickup on U.S. 19 in Hudson, authorities said. During the DUI stop, Miles managed to escape a deputy's cruiser by slipping one hand out of her handcuffs and reaching through a window left rolled down, authorities said. Miles ran to her pickup and screeched out onto U.S. 19, with Pasco Deputy Ashley Grady clinging onto the side of the truck, trying to get Miles to stop. At more than 70 mph, Miles flung Grady off the truck and sent the deputy rolling onto the highway, authorities said. Grady suffered a broken leg and later was suspended for five days without pay for violating agency regulations.

Miles barreled north on U.S. 19, and at County Line Road she rammed into McCain, a husband and grandfather. A toxicology report said Miles had oxycodone and alprazolam, the generic form of Xanax, in her system. She also told a deputy she'd consumed seven alcoholic drinks before she was pulled over.

Because the pursuit spanned two counties, there are two sets of criminal cases winding their way through the court system. Miles faces first-degree murder and other charges in Hernando, as well as attempted murder and other charges in Pasco.

McCain's family did not file a lawsuit against the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, but their attorney contacted the agency to work out a settlement. Under Florida law, a government agency's liability is limited to $200,000 unless the Legislature specifically authorizes a larger amount.

"I think it's good for all concerned that it has settled," said Hawkes, noting the agency's legal fees could have exceeded $100,000 if there had been a lawsuit that went to trial.

McCain's family and their attorney did not return calls Thursday. In previous interviews, however, McCain's widow, Anita McCain, said she wanted answers: "We believe really strongly this shouldn't have happened."

The couple's daughter, Kellie McCain, told the Times last year that the Sheriff's Office should have called off its pursuit of Miles.

"High-speed chases kill people," Kellie McCain said, "and that's what happened."

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said the settlement is not an indicator that the agency did anything wrong. "We did the right thing," Nocco said.

At the time of the incident, the Sheriff's Office policy left pursuits up to the discretion of the deputy. Examples of accepted reasons for pursuits were an "incident involving imminent death or serious injury" and "a felony in progress."

Weeks after Miles' escape and McCain's death, the agency revised its policy. The pursuit remains up to the deputy's discretion, but the policy says the chase should only take place when "the danger to the public, the deputies involved and the occupants of the fleeing vehicle, that is created by the pursuit, is significantly less than the immediate or potential danger to the public, should the suspect remain at large."

Under either policy, letting Miles go would be a difficult call, said Robert J. Diemer, the director of graduate studies in criminal justice for Saint Leo University and a retired law enforcement officer. He noted Miles was an escaped prisoner who tried to kill a deputy, and that she was intoxicated and speeding.

"If the officer didn't pursue and she wound up killing someone, the question would have been, 'Why didn't they pursue her?' " Diemer said. "It's a no-win situation."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

Family of slain motorcyclist gets settlement from Pasco Sheriff's Office 07/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series


    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.