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Deputy gets suspension in wake of Tampa arrest

The misdemeanor charge is not pursued, but the incident costs Kyle Hughes seven days without pay.

After Kyle L. Hughes got out of the car during an argument with his girlfriend, according to official reports, she found the drunken Pasco Sheriff's deputy lying on the ground in an unlikely place:

The parking lot of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at 4211 N. Lois Ave. in Tampa.

The incident, which took place just before midnight on June 26, earned Hughes a seven-day suspension without pay in July, though he won't face criminal charges on an allegation that he pushed his girlfriend, according to reports released Wednesday.

The girlfriend, Cynthia Smith, said she was trying to help Hughes back to the car when he swung around, caught her off balance, and knocked her to the ground, reports said.

The Tampa Police Department arrested Hughes, a 25-year-old corporal in the Pasco Sheriff's corrections division, on a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery.

Smith declined to pursue charges, saying Hughes showed no obvious intent to hurt her, and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the case.

Pasco County Sheriff's Office internal affairs reports show the agency suspended Hughes for conduct unbecoming and for drawing unfavorable attention to the agency.

Smith, 37, told investigators she and Hughes were driving back from a wedding in Tampa when he started using vulgar language in front of her son, reports said. She said she told Hughes, who had been drinking, to quit using such language or get out.

When she pulled over, she said, Hughes got out of the car and walked into the FDLE parking lot. She found him lying on the ground behind the building, she said, and the argument continued as she tried to get him back to the car.

Security cameras in the FDLE lot captured an animated argument, according to reports, but the film didn't show whether Hughes meant to push her. She did not report any injuries.

Hughes told an investigator he had no idea what happened, and had no explanation for his behavior, because he had been drinking, reports said. In a letter of apology to Sheriff Lee Cannon, Hughes wrote that the incident, though embarrassing, was the best thing that could have happened to him because it made him realize he had a drinking problem.

"The night I was arrested was the lowest I've ever been," he wrote, and added: "I will prove to you that I am an asset, not an embarrassment."

Hughes' record shows two commendations in 1996 and 1997 and a letter of reprimand for lack of attention to duty in 1995.

_ Staff writer Christopher Goffard is the police reporter in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6236 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6236. His e-mail address is goffardsptimes.com.

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