(ran PW, PC editions of PASCO TIMES)
The white fliers gathered on the car windshields like giant snowflakes, with a message that would not melt away.
"One of Our Citizens was MURDERED! by a police officer!" exclaimed the flier, featuring a small, smiling picture of Sharleen "Sally" Jones. The 39-year-old woman was shot in May at Dan's Fine Jewelry after she reportedly raised a gun toward a deputy.
The fliers pinned to the cars outside the Kash n' Karry on Gall Boulevard, a couple of hundred feet from the old jewelry store, so angered one Pasco County sheriff's deputy that he started snatching them up at midday Tuesday, officials said.
"One of our deputies went there, read it, was incensed by it and thought it was inflammatory," said sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers. "He removed about 15 or 20 of them from the car windshields.
"The reaction to it is understandable but not acceptable," Powers added, "and it will not happen again."
The Sheriff's Office is looking into the incident and will not provide the deputy's name until its review is complete, Powers said. The deputy could be disciplined, he said.
"It would be a pretty clear violation of the First Amendment," Powers said. "That's not acceptable to an agency that is sworn to uphold the law and the Constitution."
Larry Hayner, the man who printed and distributed the fliers about his slain daughter, took the news in stride.
"It shows that people are running scared. What else?" the Zephyrhills man said.
"This is truly Barney Fife and Otis when you get out there and do something like that," Hayner added with a chuckle.
Hayner and a friend distributed about 300 copies of the flier Tuesday outside the Kash n' Karry and Winn-Dixie in Zephyrhills. He planned to plaster more across town Wednesday.
Hayner hopes the stark flier with its bold accusations of a government coverup will prompt a new investigation into the May 22 shooting.
The shooting grew out of an e-mail Jones sent to federal investigators in Chicago, suggesting she might commit suicide. Jones expressed regret for reporting her brother-in-law for possible railroad retirement fraud because it sent the entire family into turmoil, according to reports.
Alarmed by the e-mail, investigators in Chicago asked the Pasco County Sheriff's Office to check on Jones in case she was suicidal.
Deputy Erica Fernandez found Jones at the family's jewelry store, but what happened next remains in dispute.
Sheriff's officials say Jones stood behind the counter holding a gun, hands by her side. When Fernandez ordered Jones to drop the gun, authorities say, Jones raised it toward the deputy.
Fernandez killed Jones with three shots.
Family members dispute that account, questioning whether Jones was suicidal or holding a gun when the deputy arrived.
Her widower, Byron Jones, gave notice last year of his intent to sue the Sheriff's Office.
An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined that Fernandez was justified in the shooting. A separate inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice did not find sufficient evidence that Jones' civil rights had been violated.
Hayner criticized those investigations and hopes his fliers prompt a new inquiry. He questions whether Jones' race _ she was half American Samoan _ played a role in the incident, a charge officials flatly deny.
"I'm going to fax these across the country," he said. "I will fax one to Oprah, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Mayor (Richard) Daley of Chicago, CNN, Fox _ anyone who will show interest and try to find out what's going on.
"It's going to take more than one deputy to get rid of all the fliers I'm putting out," he said.
_ Bridget Hall Grumet covers crime in east Pasco. She can be reached at (352) 521-5757, ext. 23, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6108, then 23. Her e-mail address is bhallsptimes.com.