Pasco deputy resigns after body camera catches rule violations

Published Nov. 5, 2015

NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco sheriff's deputy resigned before facing discipline after supervisors saw footage from his body-worn camera that proved he falsified incident reports.

It is the first case since the department outfitted all of its road deputies with body cameras in February in which supervisors used footage to justify disciplining a deputy, Sheriff's Office disciplinary records show.

On July 17, Deputy Kevin Manali, 29, who had been with the Pasco Sheriff's Office a little more than a year, responded to Marsh Wren Drive off Collier Parkway in Land O'Lakes to investigate a string of car burglaries, according to an investigation into Manali's conduct.

In his report, Manali wrote that the owners of the four burglarized cars declined to have Manali dust for fingerprints. However, the deputy's body camera footage showed that wasn't true in all cases, according to his professional standards review.

The first car was wet when Manali arrived to investigate, which made it difficult to dust for fingerprints, already a messy endeavor. Manali offered to dust, but the owner, who was missing his wallet, declined.

The burglar broke into the second car while it was inside a garage, so it remained dry. Manali, though, didn't offer to dust that car for prints, and the owner, who lost cash and jewelry, didn't ask.

The third car also was dry, and the owner didn't know if she should have Manali perform the procedure. He offered, reports show, but said it was likely whoever broke into the car had a bag over their hand to keep from leaving fingerprints. Even if Manali could lift a print, he told the owner, the suspect's fingerprint would have to be in the database to get a match.

Manali also told the woman her neighbors did not want the fingerprinting done. Ultimately, the owner, who said nothing appeared to be missing from her vehicle, declined the procedure.

Lt. Steven Eastmond, in his formal complaint against Manali, wrote that a corporal who followed up with the victims of the burglaries said the owners of the second and third cars "sounded like Manali kind of talked them out (fingerprinting)."

The deputy also got himself in trouble when he turned off his body camera before an interview with the fourth vehicle owner, who lost a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Department directives regarding body cameras require deputies to record all official police duties. If a deputy does not record something they should have, the deputy is supposed to notify a supervisor; records show Manali never did.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Manali offered no comment.

At the conclusion of the investigation into Manali's actions, supervisors determined Manali violated camera operation procedure, failed to adequately process and preserve evidence and falsified official records. They placed him on paid administrative leave Sept. 11.

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That same day, Manali sent a two-line internal memo to Sheriff Chris Nocco: "On 9/11/15 I request to resign from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office immediately. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to work for a highly professional organization."

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or Follow @josh_solomon15.