Florida Keys deputies accused in fight with Navy sailors won’t be prosecuted
(Tribune News Service) — Prosecutors have dropped charges against two Monroe County, Fla., deputies who fought with three Navy sailors while off duty and not in uniform in Key West late last month.
Monroe County State Attorney “no action” documents announcing the decision filed Monday state that Key West police failed to view or collect bystander video before arresting both men.
Regarding the felony battery charge that Deputy Trevor Dawson Pike faced, Assistant State Attorney Val E. Winter wrote that his “actions were justified under the circumstances to defend himself” based on witness cellphone video.
And the video showed Deputy Connor Scott Curry “did not engage in any conduct which was criminal or unjustified,” Winter wrote. Curry was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge.
Key West police arrested Pike, 25, and Curry, 23, after the early morning fight on Dec. 18. Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay immediately announced his deputies were suspended without pay.
But several days later, a group of women who witnessed the fight and filmed it sent him the footage that Ramsay said clearly showed Pike was defending himself against the sailors, and that Curry largely stayed out of the altercation.
By the end of the week, the sheriff reinstated Pike and Curry and put them back on patrol.
Ramsay declined to comment Tuesday on the Key West Police Department’s investigation of the fight, but said he was pleased with the State Attorney’s Office’s decision.
“At the end of the day, the two officers have been vindicated. And, at the end of the day, my assessment of the incident has been validated,” Ramsay said.
The fight left one sailor, James Black, with serious head injuries after Pike punched him in the face and his head hit the sidewalk pavement. Two of the other sailors, Angel Low, 26, and Jose Bejar Jr., 22, were arrested on disorderly conduct charges.
However, charges against one of those men — it was not immediately clear which one — may also be dropped, law enforcement sources say, because the video seems to show he may have been trying to break up the fight rather than take part in it.
And, despite his injuries, Black may now face charges because witnesses say he was one of the most egregious aggressors.
Several witnesses told Key West police that the sailors repeatedly tried to start a fight with Pike and Curry, according to body camera footage. The women who took the video also told responding Key West police officers that the off-duty deputies were defending themselves.
Nevertheless, the supervising officer, Sgt. Alex Rodriguez, ordered his officers to arrest everyone but Black on disorderly conduct charges and Pike on felony battery.
Ramsay said last month that the order was given without collecting evidence or witness testimony, adding that had he not seen the video, his deputies’ law enforcement careers would be over.
“A poor investigation was done and a hasty decision was made,” Ramsay told the Miami Herald/FLKeysnews.com.
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