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It started out as a 911 call about a red SUV parked in the middle of a residential road and the driver who appeared to be asleep. When the New Port Richey police officer arrived, he recognized the man behind the wheel as Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill, and that he did appear to be sleeping. Reports say the vehicle
was running and in neutral.
The ABC Action News I-Team obtained the police mounted dash cam shot on Saturday, July 13, 2013, just before midnight by a Port Richey police cruiser which arrived at the request of the New Port Richey Police. According to the report, the New Port Richey police officer wanted to "avoid the appearance or potential conflict of interest."
Click the video to see the full I-Team report.
The dash cam shows officers asking O'Neill if he knows where he is and the reports note the odor of alcohol. O'Neill stared straight ahead when the officer tried doing a field sobriety test. But instead of investigating O'Neill for a DUI, paramedics who responded told the officer they were going to transport him to nearby Northbay Hospital for a medical evaluation, and that he could have had a stroke or some other medical problem. The New Port Richey Police Department closed the case.
After the I-Team started asking questions, the New Port Richey Interim Police Chief Kim Bogart tells us his agency is going to thoroughly review the case and the actions of the officer. Chief Bogart credits the I-Team with bringing to his attention that the dash mounted video even existed. He says he has since contacted the state attorney's office to see if O'Neill's hospital visit included any blood work.
The I-Team has been unable to reach O'Neill for comment. Records show O'Neill's home was just a few blocks away and a Port Richey Police officer drove his car home for him.