High Surf Advisory issued January 26 at 3:34AM EST expiring January 27 at 7:00AM EST in effect for: Pinellas
A lawyer for a North Port Police Department officer who authorities say killed himself just before his arrest in a sexual battery case said Friday his client’s name will be cleared.
"These charges, you know, I don't think are going to stick. The truth will come out," said Officer Ricky Urbina's lawyer Eric Reisinger.
"He was obviously quite upset that the police decided to make an arrest,” Reisinger said. “They didn't have to make an arrest. They chose to make one.”
Urbina, 44, committed suicide Thursday as Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies prepared to arrest him on sexual battery and false imprisonment charges, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was accused of handcuffing a woman at a March 2 house party while on duty and sexually battering her in a bedroom.
Melanie Turner, a 33-year-old North Port police officer, was arrested on the same charges. A Sheriff’s Office report says the victim accused her taking part in the battery.
A judge set a $200,000 bond for her Friday, but her lawyer told ABC Action News that she planned to bail out later that day.
Urbina reportedly shot himself after talking to his lawyer and arranging to turn himself into investigators.
His neighbor said he saw Urbina acting strangely shortly before the suicide.
"I kept looking at him, hoping he would glance over at me so I could wave at him,” said Daniel Trombly, the neighbor. “You know, it's probably 70 feet away from here, and he never looked up.”
The alleged sexual battery occurred at a North Port home where the victim was hosting a birthday party for her boyfriend. She told investigators Urbina and Turner handcuffed her, took her into a bedroom, pulled down her pants and sexually violated her.
Reisinger said the encounter was consensual.
"(Urbina) was upset about going to jail -- that's all I know," Reisinger said.
North Port Police placed the officers on paid leave when the allegations surfaced.
Police Chief Kevin Vespia didn't answer questions Friday at a news conference, only giving a brief statement.
"The North Port Police Department does not tolerate this type of misconduct from its officers. Nor is it a reflection of the many men and women of our department that work hard each and every day to keep our citizens safe," he said.