Former Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Daniel Brock says the internal affairs investigation that resulted in his firing began soon after he accused a colleague of inappropriate personal behavior.
The same colleague, Detective Bruce Crumpler, conducted that investigation into Brock's record as one of the Sheriff's Office's most aggressive DUI watchdogs.
"That's where the whirlwind starts," Brock said Thursday, "and it just picks up steam from there."
Brock, 38, lost his job May 24. An internal review by the Sheriff's Office concluded that he arrested 58 people with blood-alcohol content below the legal threshold, often without evidence of suspicious driving behavior, positive urine samples or video to back his accusations of impairment.
This week, he appealed his dismissal and asked the county's Civil Service Board to reinstate him with full back pay.
If that doesn't work, he said, he may turn to the courts for relief.
"He has made the statement publicly that he will take it all the way to be exonerated," said Brock's attorney, Jeffrey Blau.
On Thursday, Brock spoke with the St. Petersburg Times for the first time since his firing became public last week. During a 30-minute interview at his attorney's Davis Islands office, he defended his work and criticized the officials who took away the job he described as "the paramount of crime prevention."
Brock said his personal history with Crumpler should have precluded the detective from conducting the investigation.
He admits to making a negative remark about Crumpler, but said he thought they cleared the bad blood between them during a phone call last summer.
"A couple weeks later, next thing I know, somebody says that I took a bribe to dump a DUI," Brock said.
Brock said the supposed bribe was in exchange for an amended report he submitted in the July 17, 2006, DUI arrest of Kristopher Amos.
The internal affairs investigation said Brock told a prosecutor that his original report "showed the defendant being more intoxicated than he truly was."
On Thursday, Brock recalled that he had been mowing his lawn when he realized his first report about Amos' arrest was inaccurate and needed to be revised.
According to the internal affairs report, Brock initially denied issuing the second report when Crumpler confronted him about it, but then acknowledged it.
His second report, which Crumpler said still contained inaccuracies when compared to the videotape of the arrest, raised the suspicion of prosecutors and sheriff's officials, and sparked the internal investigation.
The State Attorney's Office is investigating Brock's handling of the Amos case and others. But Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said she had not heard any mention of a bribery allegation in connection with the Amos case.
Prosecutors dropped the charges against Amos.
Amos and sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway said they had not heard of any bribery accusation.
"We're not sure what he's talking about there," Callaway said.
The Sheriff's Office would not comment on Brock's criticism of Crumpler conducting the internal investigation.
In total, prosecutors have dropped 65 of the 313 DUI cases the former deputy investigated between October 2005 and October 2006.
"It's highly unusual to drop 65 out of 313," State Attorney Mark Ober said. "It's an extraordinarily large number."
Brock, a native of Tampa who graduated from Armwood High, said prosecutors have dropped a total of 113 of his cases, including some traffic and drug arrests.
He doesn't agree with their reasons, arguing that a person with a low blood-alcohol content may still be too impaired to drive.
Brock said he doesn't drink alcohol and never has. He said that means it would take less alcohol to make him impaired than someone who drinks regularly.
"It's the totality of the circumstances, of the observation," he said. "It's not just a specific thing. If I drank a beer, I wouldn't be able to stand, I doubt. But am I over the legal limit? Nope, I wouldn't be over the legal limit.
"There is no legal limit. It's bad language that's used. You're not supposed to drink and drive."
The internal audit stated that Brock did not record 124 of his DUI stops. He said Thursday that his video equipment frequently malfunctioned.
The audit also said he violated standard operating procedure 17 times by arresting two people in separate DUI incidents and transporting them to jail at the same time. He told Crumpler that he did so when there were no other DUI units available or it was a busy night.
And Thursday he said he had been taught that standard procedures were meant to be "a guideline,'' not a hard-and-fast rule.
"What do you do in that situation where you have an impaired driver in front of you?" Brock asked. "Do you just turn a blind eye? I would hate to be the person that turned a blind eye and then the person kills himself or hurts himself or crashes. I would find that hard to live with.
"I can live with being suspended for violating an SOP," he said. "I don't think I could live with something like that."
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3337.
The attorney for former Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Daniel Brock has raised questions about recent Times stories concerning DUI arrests by Brock.
On June 15, the Times correctly cited a Sheriff's Office report that said Brock arrested 43 drivers who had demonstrated no visible signs of impairment at the wheel. However, only 19 of the 43 also had blood alcohol levels below 0.08, the level at which the law presumes a driver is impaired.
A June 16 story explored cases in which Brock's arrest reports, in the view of an internal affairs detective, conflicted with video of the actual arrests. The story pointed out the inconsistencies but did not intend to accuse Brock of deliberate falsification. The internal report did not state the inconsistencies were deliberate.
Also in that story: Chief Assistant State Attorney Karen L. Stanley says she was addressing Brock's handling of only one DUI arrest when she wrote Nov. 6 that "facts in this case meet the element of a crime." Stanley's comment did not refer to any other cases. The State Attorney's Office excused Brock on Oct. 6 from responding to court subpoenas in his cases. The story named a different agency.