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Officer may be disciplined for lying to sergeant

A police officer is facing discipline for lying to his sergeant about how he investigated the beating death of a 16-year-old boy on the Courtney Campbell Parkway in October, according to Tampa police officials.

Officer Jimmy Caplinger was sent to the parkway Oct. 4 to investigate a report that a man was injured, but he left without determining how seriously the person was hurt. He didn't write a report and later told his sergeant that the victim had told him his injuries were accidental, according to an internal affairs report released Wednesday.

The victim, 16-year-old Michael Todd Schnur, was unconscious at the scene and could not have spoken with Caplinger, according to Tampa Fire Department officials. Schnur was placed on life support when he arrived at St. Joseph's Hospital.

"It's obvious to me he intentionally lied to me about his actions at the scene," Sgt. W. D. Pricher told investigators. Pricher filed the complaint against Caplinger.

When he was confronted by Pricher about his handling of the parkway investigation, Caplinger first said he had spoken to the teen. He also said two witnesses said the boy had slipped on wet grass and hit his head on a car bumper, according to the report.

Caplinger quickly began to backpedal on the story, Pricher told investigators. Caplinger said that he had not spoken to the victim, but had heard the victim talking to paramedics, according to the report.

Caplinger later said he should have filed a report, but was under stress because his wife was expecting a baby soon, according to the report.

Caplinger did not go to the hospital to follow the teen-ager's condition, the report stated. Witnesses who went to the hospital later told homicide investigators that Schnur had been beaten.

In 1988, Caplinger was given a reprimand for careless operation of a police vehicle.

Caplinger, 39, was fired from the department in February 1990 for stealing tires and car batteries from the city garage. He also was accused of steering business to two towing services in exchange for gifts.

He appealed and was rehired without back pay five months later.

Last year, Caplinger saved the life of a man who had been set on fire on the Courtney Campbell.