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Allegations of Racist Slurs and Excessive Force Land Flagler Beach Police Officer in Jail

| June 15, 2010

(© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler Beach Police Department’s Lt. Robert W. Milstead was known for taking on tough-man challenges on behalf of fellow officers: in 2007, and again last year, he took part in the state’s grueling Tour de Force competition, a 286-mile bike trek through 65 law enforcement jurisdictions around the state. The event raises money for the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Last year, Milstead was one of just 28 officers, from a starting lineup of 102, who finished the tour. “These guys are setting the example for the rest of the department,” Flagler Beach Police Chief Dan Cody said at the time, referring to Milstead and another officer who’d taken part in a different, equally grueling training competition.

On Monday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Milstead, 55, on charges of abusing citizens he is sworn to protect, going back to incidents that took place in 2008 and 2009. He was booked into the St. Johns County Jail on $105,000 bond at 8:10 p.m. Monday evening. He posted bond 20 minutes later.

According to an FDLE release, the state police agency began an investigation in January after receiving complaints about Milstead. Agents with the Jacksonville Regional Operations Center identified two incidents when Milstead used excessive force, according to FDLE.

The first occurred during a traffic stop on April 3, 2008 in Flagler Beach. Milstead had stopped David Bellish on State Road 100, near Colbert Lane. Bellish, according to a police report, had reportedly backed into another car while leaving the parking lot of Finnegan’s Bar in Flagler Beach. Milstead asked Bellish to get out of the vehicle. Twice Bellish told Milstead that he was unable to get out of the vehicle without using his cane. Bellish had sustained substantial injuries from a car crash in 1999, and had required the use of a cane to conduct day-to-day activities since 2007. He’d been receiving disability benefits for several years.

Bellish and another, unnamed police officer, according to the police report, “indicated that Lt. Milstead immediately jerked Bellish from the vehicle and threw him onto the ground.” Milstead then ordered Bellish to get up, even though Bellish had told him he could not walk without his cane. “A law enforcement witness present at the scene indicated that Lt. Milstead jerked Bellish to his feet and ordered him to walk,” the report states. When Bellish did not, Milstead dropped him to the ground and sprayed pepper spray in Bellish’s face, according to the report.

FDLE agents obtained several law enforcement officer and witness statements that indicate Bellish was not being combative or physically resistant during the encounter.

The second incident occurred Nov. 27, 2009, when a Flagler Beach Police Officer was dispatched to a disturbance call at the 100 block of S.R. 100 in Flagler Beach. There, Charles Jackson, who is black, was upset because his girlfriend was allegedly using drugs in front of his children. As the responding officer was talking to Jackson, Milstead, who was off-duty at the time, arrived in his personal vehicle. As he spoke to the responding officer, Jackson began to curse at his girlfriend. The responding officer told Jackson to calm down and that they’d be free to leave after the situation was resolved. At that point Milstead, after identifying himself as a Flagler Beach police officer, told Jackson: “Shut your mouth so you don’t go to jail.”

Jackson a few minutes later again became argumentative with his girlfriend, at which point Milstead ordered the responding officer to hand him his handcuffs, which Milstead immediately placed on Jackson before putting Jackson in the patrol car. Jackson, in the car, started yelling. According to the police report, Jackson said Milstead walked over to the patrol car, opened the door, and said: “Are you going to still run your fucking mouth, nigger?”

The rest of the police report reads as follows:

Jackson told Milstead to get out of his face. Lt. Milstead closed the vehicle door. Lt. Milstead opened the door a second time and said, “Are you going to still run your fucking mouth, nigger?” Jackson told Lt. Milstead to get out of his face or he was going to spit on him. Jackson stated the last time Lt. Milstead opened the door, he (Jackson) made a spitting sound as if he was going to spit but didn’t. Lt. Milstead slammed the vehicle door and walked towards the other FBPD officer on scene and asked for his pepper spray. Jackson stated that Lt. Milstead returned to the patrol car, opened the door, and said, “I got something for you now, nigger.” Lt. Milstead deployed the pepper spray onto Jackson’s face while he was handcuffed behind his back and sitting in the patrol vehicle. One law enforcement witness on scene stated that Lt. Milstead opened the patrol car door to deploy the pepper spray in Jackson’s face on at least two occasions.

Milstead worked at the Flagler County Sheriff from 1981 to 1983, and at the Holly Hill Police Department from 1985 to 2007. He’s been with the Flagler Beach Police Department for two and a half years. He is paid $47,700 a year.

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18 Responses for “Allegations of Racist Slurs and Excessive Force Land Flagler Beach Police Officer in Jail”

  1. No LEO says:

    This is totally bogus!

    Disabled guy is getting disability benefits, leaves Finnagins (a bar) after hitting a parked car. Milstead pulls him over, asks him to get out of the vehicle to arrest him and guy says he can’t (basically a refusal in my book), so Milstead assists him out and puts him on the ground and cuffs him.

    If guy really needs a cane that bad to walk, how in the hell is he driving, and why is it allowed.

    As for Mr Jackson,

    Guy gets mouthy to a LEO, is advised to shut up, and keeps mouthing off, Milstead puts him in cuffs for everyones saftey, jackson still won’t shut up, Milstead says you want pepper spray guy hauks up a loogie (that is implied assault on a LEO), so Milstead sprays him with pepper spray, and what do you know the guy shuts right up.

    Sounds like the minimal amount of force necessary to affect an arrest and pacify a situation.

    I don’;t see the problem. Milstead has been a cop for 30+ years. He has to be highly decorated, I don’t see anyone bringing up how good a cop Milstead is, they just wanna condemn him based on the press before the facts come out.

    There are 2 version of this news story already. One where Milstead is arrested by FDLE and another where he turns himself in. The press can’t get their lies straight, and you want to condemn a 30+ LEO veteran based on bad press. Cmon folks see thru the veil of poo.

  2. disorderly conduct{flaglr chat commoner} says:

    problem occifer?

  3. Haw Creek Girl says:

    Millstead has always been an agressive, over zealous officer. He left Flagler County unwilling in the early 90’s and went to Holly Hill. Anyone who is from here knows anything goes in Holly Hill and any officer in trouble somewhere else can always get a job there. This is a perfect example of why we should have patience……what goes around does in fact come around….even if it takes 30 years.

  4. elaygee says:

    Can’t wait for the lawsuit and payout. Keep hiring losers and you’ll keep paying for it in the end.

  5. John Kerr says:

    I have seen FBP do many odd things along Hwy100. The typical radar trap located at the base of the bridge was manned one morning. I was coming off ‘Anderson on to 100, heading west, the officer walked toward my moving motorcycle, pointing the radar gun. He stopped a few feet from my moving motorcycle, with the radar gun being even closer to my face. Made no sense. I proceeded about my business without being stopped or harassed further. Go figure!

  6. BrandX says:

    This officer should be fired. This case is about his misconduct and not whether or not the elderly driver should be on the road.

  7. david says:

    A reply to no leo, first of all, you were not there, and other officers testified about the disabled man, so keep your trap shut until you know the facts..the disabled man did not file a complaint the other flagler officers did.. so Thank God The Truth Came Out..I hope you are never treated like that, then you may understand

  8. FB local says:

    Yes, it’s true, most cops are a bit rude and aggressive in nature. After years of dealing with scumbags, drunk drivers, rapists, drug dealers and the like, you would be too. With so many violent offenders out there, it seems to me you never know who you are pulling over.
    The news does not always investigate or elaborate on the details. The 2 1/2 year old case of the “elderly man abused” does not tell you that the guy left a bar, was drunk, backed into a car, drove off and refused to get out of the car when pulled over. This older man then became belligerent, threatening the officer and reached for his cane. If you were that officer, what makes you think he was actually reaching for a cane? Could have been a gun. The guy plead guilty on all charges. So what if he got yanked out of the car. Better that than the drunk driving off and getting away. He should have listened to the officer of the law. Thank God the officer got this drunk off the road, might have saved someone’s life out there.
    As far as the drug dealer who got maced, he was threatening the officer with bodily fluid, which is considered battery. If mace stopped that, the officer did his job. By the way, that guy was threatening to beat up his girlfriend in front of their children. Perhaps it was excessive, but it doesn’t mean the officer is some kind of violent monster. Maybe he just lost his patience with the guy. I’m sure most cops have very little tolerance for these jerks.
    Being a police officer is a thankless, dangerous and rough job. They never know if their next ticketing will be someone ready to pull the trigger on them. I am sure most officers make bad calls at some time in their career. Dealing with dirtbags day in and day out has a toll on these women and men.
    If this officer has had 4 or 5 bad calls in 32 years, perhaps he’s not as bad as the media would like to portray him. I’m just saying, there’s always two sides to a story.
    At least he wasn’t stealing drugs and money like those disgraceful Bunnell cops & city commissioner.

  9. cracker says:

    “No LEO” and “FB Local” – You can make all kinds of excuses and justification for a cop’s rudeness and over-the-top use of force, but the fact is, some of these guys suffer from “god syndrome” – you know, “I got a badge and a gun, so I can do whatever I want.” I’ve known quite a few law enforcement officers; some were/are really good people, but others have way more ego than they should for the job of a public servant.

  10. starfyre says:

    its a cops fault that my son hit his head

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it’s true, most cops are a bit rude and aggressive in nature. After years of dealing with scumbags, drunk drivers, rapists, drug dealers and the like, you would be too. With so many violent offenders out there, it seems to me you never know who you are pulling over.

    If this is the way you feel it time for you to fine another job, I don’t think being a bid rude and aggrressive in nature was dicuss during your interview when you apply for that job. I believe in officer safety first, 99 % of police officers do protect and serve, but there is always that 1% who have the power thing. Yes your life is in danger when you are pulling over someone or responding to a vilolent call, but when doing so you don’t have to take away someones dignity, You have to be carefull. I have the greatest respect for your job, but I don’t have respect for
    some one that is suppose to be in charge calling someone a name, telling that man to shut up should have been enough. The old man with a cane said it all when he pleaded guilty to all charges but it had to be a hell of a scene when your own co-workers report you. My mother always told me reputation is
    everything, what is this guy doing to our city reputation.

  12. David says:

    Reply to anonymous, Since you have all the facts, what did the disabled man plead guilty to freakin einstien, Lt. Milstead plead guilty and is now off the flagler police force, and will never be a cop again..End of Story..Its people like this,, that think they know it all, now what do have to say.?????? LOSER …..The other officers testified and stated that disabled man was not combative or resisting at all, So the next time you run your big mouth, Get Your Facts Straight……..Peace

  13. Concerned Citizen says:

    It is good that Milstead is GONE! That was a long time coming!

  14. Concerned Citizen says:

    Milstead use to boost to other collegues about how much money he inherited. I wonder how much of that he will have to spend or lose to get out of his problems.

  15. Concerned Citizen says:

    Chief Cody might also want to consider retiring and moving back to the farm. This does not make him look very good hiring people like RM!

  16. Tired Taxpayer says:

    If there was ever a person who became a cop for all the wrong reasons, it was R.W. Milstead.

  17. Flagler Resident says:

    I am not going to rehash what did or did not happen. I will say that I know RW Milstead personally, and that there is more to this story that is not being made widely known. Flagler Beach, you’ve made your choice, and sooner or later, there will be consequences.

  18. FB Local says:

    You are absolutely right Flagler Resident. There is much more to this story than what is being sensationalized. RW plead guilty because if he fought the charges, he could go to jail, so like anyone in his position, he went the route that would hurt his family the least. All of this happened because of some political and personal vendettas within the FBPD. And I still don’t care what anyone says, if your life is at stake as all police officers are every day, you make the choice that keeps you alive and if that means yanking someone out of a car who might be reaching for a gun to kill you with or pepper spraying someone who is trying to spew bodily fluids on you, well so be it. If you disagree, go to the police academy, get a job at your local police dept. and then go deal with all these dirtbags they have to deal with everyday, 365 days a year.
    Go to and check out a few of these losers.

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