Officer jailed on DUI charge

Published May 27, 1995|Updated Oct. 4, 2005

Two off-duty Tampa police officers were arrested Friday after sheriff's deputies said one drove drunk and the other became belligerent and punched a deputy.

A Hillsborough deputy patrolling north Tampa about 4 a.m. Friday said he first saw the black Isuzu Rodeo bounce off a median on Bearss Avenue. Following the Isuzu to Nebraska Avenue, the deputy said he saw the driver of the weaving car hit two more medians.

At the wheel, authorities said, was one of their own: Tampa police Officer Keith Michael O'Connor. Beside him sat Mary E. Minter, a highly regarded police officer.

O'Connor, 28, was charged with drunken driving. After the Isuzu was pulled over, deputies said, Minter, 24, also was drunk and refused to cooperate. When she was put in the back seat of a patrol car, deputies said, she kicked the windows and punched a deputy in the chest and shoulder when he tried to calm her down. Six deputies responded to the scene.

Minter was arrested on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, obstruction and disorderly intoxication.

Both were released Friday from Hillsborough County Jail after Minter posted $3,050 bail, and O'Connor posted $500 bail.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said she didn't know where the officers had been drinking.

O'Connor and Minter were suspended without pay Friday morning, said Tampa police spokesman Steve Cole. An internal police investigation will determine whether they violated department policies.

Both officers are relatively new to Tampa police.

On her first-year evaluation in December, Minter achieved an "excellent" rating. She ran a stop sign and crashed her patrol car in her first few months but was commended several times in her first year for "superior job performance."

"She is consistently at the top of the squad in calls handled and reports written," Minter's sergeant wrote.

O'Connor, who is still on regular probation as a new officer, will finish his first year in August. He also worked as an auxiliary officer.

_ Staff writer Jackie Ripley contributed to this story.