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Former Pinellas deputy found guilty of exhibiting gun, sentenced to jail time

Sheila Langlais pointed her gun at a motorist after exchanging profanity-laced words.
Sheila Langlais pointed her gun at a motorist after exchanging profanity-laced words.
Published Oct. 9, 2016

A former Pinellas sheriff's deputy will spend nearly a year in jail after a jury on Friday found her guilty of improperly exhibiting a firearm during a road rage argument in February.

Sheila Langlais, 47, will also have to pay a $500 fine.

On Feb. 7, Brett Dowd and his fiancee, Brittany Byrne, had just arrived at the Twin Lakes apartment complex in Palm Harbor for a cookout with friends. Their 2-year-old son was in the backseat.

But as Byrne, who was driving, pulled into a guest parking spot, Langlais, driving a black Nissan, headed toward them. Both cars came to a halt and avoided a crash.

Dowd and Langlais lowered their windows and exchanged profanity-laced words. When he insulted Langlais with another obscenity, Langlais grabbed her gun and pointed it at Dowd with both her hands, prosecutors said, before driving away.

Prosecutors also said during the two-day trial that Langlais initially denied carrying a gun. Investigators later found the Glock pistol inside the apartment of another deputy Langlais was visiting that day. Her defense attorney argued that she was relying on law enforcement training.

Langlais resigned from the Sheriff's Office during the investigation. She was charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault, but a jury of six found her guilty of two misdemeanor counts of improper exhibition of a firearm. Pinellas Circuit Judge William Burgess III dismissed one count on grounds of double jeopardy.

Langlais was booked into the Pinellas County jail Friday night.