Cop accused in sex scandal reinstated despite state attorney's refusal to use his testimony

State attorney: public potentially at risk

LAKELAND, Fla. - Citing an overall lack of evidence in his alleged role in the sex scandal, Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack reinstated Sergeant Bryan McNabb to full duty Wednesday.

McNabb had been on modified duty since June when former crime analyst Sue Eberle accused him of forcing her to touch him inappropriately at work and sharing nude pictures with her.

The future of McNabb's employment at the department has been debated for months after State Attorney Jerry Hill said he lied in the sex investigation and would no longer use his testimony in court, making it pretty much impossible for him to work as a normal officer.

Hill said the only way to restore his credibility is to pass a lie detector test, but McNabb refused to take one.

That makes the decision to reinstate the sergeant extra tricky.

"We see this as a way to close this chapter and we're moving on, we're moving forward," Womack told reporters Wednesday.

The chief, city manager, and police union president decided that in McNabb's job overseeing the training program, he will rarely be needed in court.

But it's not to say it will never happen.

"He has a badge and gun so if a citizen of Lakeland or a fellow police officer is in danger and needs help, he can act as a police officer, bottom line," said Nick Marolda, Union President.

If that scenario occurs, and McNabb is a key witness, there could be a major issue.

Hill released a statement after the announcement saying he has not changed his position.

"He will not be a witness for the State in any criminal prosecution because his testimony is of no value," the statement said. "Allowing McNabb to continue in this capacity potentially puts the safety of the public at risk."

Mayor Howard Wiggs disagrees with Hill's assessment, and the city manager assured him McNabb will never work cases alone so there will be other witnesses.

"I think we should keep McNabb," he said.

But again, he's a high-ranking cop, and if he's a key witness there's a good chance the bad guy walks free.

David Linesch, the Palm Harbor attorney representing the woman at the center of the sex scandal, Sue Eberle, called Chief Womack's decision on McNabb "incomprehensible and extremely reckless."

"Furthermore, to put Sgt. McNabb into a role where he actually trains young cadets, not only potentially exposes the city of Lakeland to additional harm, but further taints the reputation of a once noble department and the city it serves," Linesch said in a statement.

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