A man walks into a bar and runs up an $18,000 tab. It sounds like the start of a joke, but there is no punch line. The expense accounts for the personnel costs accumulated at the Pasco Sheriff's Office investigating allegations from New Port Richey Mayor Scott McPherson after the arrest of his wife, Kimberly, on a domestic battery charge.
The 56-page report released Tuesday fails to substantiate the McPhersons' contention that Deputy Michael Shoup used excessive force, restrained them illegally, falsified his police report, and was rude and verbally abusive toward the couple in the highly publicized confrontation outside Grill 54 in Trinity just after midnight on July 26. The deputy is free and clear, but the public has to eat the expense of the McPhersons' evening out.
The mayor retreated from his repetitive, but false, allegations that Shoup sexually assaulted his wife during the arrest. And Mrs. McPherson recanted her charge that deputies manhandled her by tossing her into the backseat of a cruiser. She said she was escorted to the car and sat down.
Shoup charged Kimberly McPherson after another deputy watched her slap the mayor in the face in an effort to quell his tequila-induced belligerence. Shoup didn't help matters. His partner that evening — a deputy in training — acknowledged Shoup's aggressive behavior likely contributed to a confrontation that various witnesses described as mutual shouting, a "little scream fest'' and "almost like a p------ match.''
Regardless, that does not excuse McPherson's actions or his effort to throw his weight around by identifying himself as the mayor and friend of Pasco Sheriff Bob White, or his attempt to deflect blame for his profane insults to the officers and threats to have them fired. Prosecutors dropped the charge against Kimberly McPherson and the mayor later apologized to the deputies, excluding Shoup. His contrition is not complete.
McPherson unfairly characterized Shoup as a sexual predator who abused Mrs. McPherson. The mayor irrevocably tarnished his own reputation that evening with the choices he made. He should not be allowed to do likewise to the arresting deputy.