A sheriff’s captain in Florida appeared to get special treatment from law enforcement officials after he was found passed out in the driver’s seat of his SUV with the vehicle in drive and his foot on the brake at a crowded intersection, local ABC affiliate WFTV reported. He was released without a sobriety or medical exam, but not before getting a “fist bump” from one of the deputies who recognized him and sent him on his way.
According to the report, on July 8, several drivers on County Road 419 in Seminole County called police and firefighters about a car that was running but not moving because the driver of the vehicle appeared to be asleep.
WFTV reporter Karla Ray obtained dashboard camera footage of one of the sheriff’s deputies that arrived on the scene.
The footage shows deputies with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department parking their cars directly in front of and behind the SUV to prevent it from moving if the driver took his foot off of the brake. A deputy then knocks on the window for over a minute before the driver wakes up and opens the door. Several emergency responders are also shown to have arrived on the scene as one of the officers can be overheard saying the driver is “either OD-ed or asleep.”
“Did you fall asleep? What happened,” one of the responding deputies asked the driver, whose face is blurred in the video.
“I’m a captain with the sheriff’s office,” the driver can be heard saying.
WFTV reported that the driver was Seminole County Sheriff’s Captain Kip Beacham, who oversees the Community Justice and Rehabilitation Division and has been with the Office for 24 years.
“Oh, oh shit, I’m sorry man,” the deputy says upon recognizing his superior officer.
The deputies then tell the medical personnel that it’s not a medical issue, sending them away and letting the recently sleeping captain get back in his car without asking him any additional questions or performing any kind of screening or sobriety test.
“You’re good, just leave. This didn’t happen,” a deputy can be heard saying as he walks away from the vehicle laughing.
One of the responding deputies can also been seen fist bumping the captain before releasing him.
The local news source contacted the sheriff’s office to ask whether such a situation would normally result in a driver taking a sobriety test or other medical screening.
“A sheriff’s office spokesperson said every situation is unique, and it is ultimately the deputy’s discretion based on training and experience,” the report stated. “The spokesperson went on to say that upon awakening, the driver showed ‘no signs of impairment or further concerns to deputies.’”
The deputies reportedly did not fill out an incident report and are not under review for their conduct.
The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to questions from Law&Crime concerning why there was no incident report, whether the office had questioned the captain about the incident, or why the captain who fell asleep or passed out in the middle of driving did not pose a potential threat behind the wheel.
Beacham in 2019 was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) to the Florida Virtual School board of trustees.
[image via WFTV screengrab]
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