ST. PETERSBURG — A Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office homicide detective who has played a leading role in the case against parking-lot shooter Michael Drejka was arrested and fired after he showed up drunk to a death investigation scene, deputies said.
George D. Moffett Jr., 48, was off-duty before he responded about 10:30 p.m. Thursday from his home in Riverview to a fatal shooting at 10610 Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg, according to the Sheriff’s Office. After he got out of his unmarked agency car, deputies noticed he smelled like alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and was slurring his speech, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies began a driving-under-the influence investigation in tandem with the shooting investigation. Moffett performed poorly in field sobriety tests, the Sheriff’s Office said. He also admitted to drinking four mixed drinks — Crown Royal and ginger ale, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Friday. Deputies arrested him on a DUI charge.
“To say that it’s disappointing is an understatement,” Gualtieri said, adding that Moffett was armed. “The recipe for disaster was definitely there, and thank God nothing happened.”
Moffett could not be reached for comment Friday.
The former detective has played a major role in the case against Drejka, who shot and killed Markies McGlockton last summer in a shooting that sparked a national debate over Florida’s stand your ground law. Moffett wrote the warrant that led to Drejka’s eventual arrest and, along with another detective, interviewed Drejka in the hours after the July 19 shooting.
The arrest drew the attention of attorneys representing Drejka, who stands accused of manslaughter in the shooting of McGlockton.
John Trevena, one of Drejka’s attorneys, said he plans to raise the arrest at trial during cross examination.
“His lack of credibility, I believe, is fatal to the state’s case,” Trevena said. “Was he drunk when he investigated the Drejka shooting?”
Drejka was not arrested immediately. Gualtieri at the time cited the immunity provided by Florida’s stand your ground law.
But Trevena said Moffett told him in a deposition that he was in favor of Drejka’s arrest and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office made the call to charge him with manslaughter.
Prosecutors from the office could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Breath samples taken several hours after Moffett arrived at Thursday’s shooting scene showed he had blood alcohol content levels of about .129 and .134, more than the .08 limit at which Florida law presumes impairment.
Gualtieri fired Moffett under an agency policy put in place in 2013 that requires termination for deputies arrested on a DUI charge.
Homicide detectives don’t have an on-call schedule, Gualtieri said. Instead, the agency puts out a request for them to respond when a crime is committed. If they are unable to answer the call, they‘re allowed to tell their supervisor they’re not available. The sheriff said Moffett told him he came anyway because he worried they’d be short staffed because of the holidays.
Moffett has worked for the agency since March 2006. He was booked into the Pinellas County jail about 2 a.m. Friday and released about 9 a.m. on his own recognizance.
Eleven years before he was hired, Moffett was convicted of another DUI, the Sheriff’s Office said. He also was also arrested on a domestic violence charge in 2010, accused of grabbing the arm of his estranged wife during an argument over their impending divorce. Prosecutors dropped the charge.
Contact Kathryn Varn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.