No action taken against deputy in open-carry arrest

CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. - The Citrus County Sheriff's office has wrapped up an internal investigation on a seven-year veteran of the force, Deputy Andy Cox. No disciplinary action will be taken against the deputy.

The internal review began after a viral YouTube video was brought to Sheriff Jeffrey Dawsy in January. The video shows Cox arresting permitted gun owner Joel Smith on an open carry charge in 2009.

Internal investigation reports revealed Cox was at fault for use of profanity during the arrest, as well as conduct unbecoming an officer. The documents also show Cox was exonerated on questions of if the arrest was warranted and his use of control.

The internal affairs report detailed several suggested disciplinary actions, including removing Cox from a specialized dive team.

However, Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Heather Yates said because of a missed 180-day window by law to investigate such a complaint and take action, no disciplinary action will be taken against Deputy Cox.  She said a hand-written phone message taken at the Sheriff's Office from Smith in 2009 is significant to show such an investigation could have been triggered shortly after the arresting incident in question.

Sheriff Jeffery Dawsy released the following statement: "This situation was mishandled by our supervisors and this agency back in 2009. Had it been escalated, I would have dealt with it then. I want to make it clear that I do not condone Dep. Cox's behavior, but because of the limitations of the Law Enforcement Officers' Rights, my hands are tied and he will not face any disciplinary action.  Going forward, we will do everything in our power to ensure that a situation like this does not occur again."

Yates said Deputy Cox will undergo several days of retraining on "high liability" incidents.  He's expected to be back on patrol March 2. Yates added the entire department will now undergo some level of retraining in reporting similar matters in the future.

Smith said he is filing a civil lawsuit. "It happened, and it's going to happen again," he said "It was wrong."
 

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