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Flagler Beach Commissioner Eric Cooley Arrested on Domestic Violence Charge

| June 29, 2018

Eric Cooley won a seat on the Flagler Beach City Commission in January, without opposition.(c FlaglerLive)

Eric Cooley won a seat on the Flagler Beach City Commission in January, without opposition.(c FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: Saturday, 10:10 a.m.

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Eric Cooley was arrested on a domestic violence charge Friday evening (June 29) following allegations by his girlfriend of 20 years that he’d struck her several times at their home and at the 7-Eleven store he owns on South Oceanshore Boulevard between June 22 and 29.

Few details of the arrest are available so far.

A store employee called police Friday at at 5:28 p.m., alleging that Cooley was seen kicking Suzanne Kenna in the legs and grabbing her by the throat at the 7-Eleven, according to Cooley’s arrest report. Flagler Beach police initially responded. At some point, realizing who the parties involved were, and following up on a request by the alleged victim or the witness, Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney contacted Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly this evening–as Staly was on one of his regular Friday evening patrols–and requested that, since a city commissioner was involved, the Sheriff’s Office take over the case.

Doughney had another reason to request the outside agency: Cooley for a few years before he was commissioner hosted Donuts With Doughney at the 7-Eleven, a periodic morning event where residents could have coffee and donuts with the police chief and discuss civil issues in a relaxed environment.

After the call from Doughney to the sheriff, the sheriff’s watch commander responded to the scene with deputies, who then determined the arrest was warranted, Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Strobridge said late this evening. Cooley was booked at the county jail at 11 p.m. He was expected to spend the night there, as is the norm on domestic assault-related arrests and before their first appearance before a judge.

Eric Cooley's booking photo.

Eric Cooley’s booking photo.

Kenna, 47, said she and Cooley were conducting inventory at the store the morning of June 22 when an argument developed. She said “anything that goes wrong with the store is blamed on her,” according to the arrest report, “causing Eric to become upset.” She alleged he kicked her in both shins with his steel-toed shoes, “grabbed her around the chin with his right hand inside the store cooler, and punched her in the back of her shoulder” in an incident that stretched over 15 minutes.

Kenna said Cooley punched her in the right shoulder Thursday night when she came home and “smacked her in the face” Friday morning with enough force that she allegedly struck the wall with her forehead. She cautioned authorities that while incidents would have been captured on surveillance video, only Cooley has access to the footage. The store’s copy of footage may be deleted at any time, she said, but not the version fed to the company’s corporate security contractor, which is kept for six months.

Deputies met with Cooley at his home. He acknowledged having arguments with Kenna, but no violent physical contact. “That’s interesting,” he said when told of the bruising deputies observed on the alleged victim. “She is entitled to say that. We have been arguing a lot and we have not been getting along. We get in each other’s faces, we don’t cross lines,” he told deputies.

According to the report, Kenna said she’s been in a relationship with Cooley for 20 years “and approximately the last 10 has had instances of domestic violence that have not been reported.”

Cooley, 43, was elected to the Flagler Beach City Commission last January when he was the only candidate to announce for the seat held by Joy McGrew, who had decided not to run again. As the only candidate, he was seated without an election. McGrew had endorsed his candidacy. Cooley by then had owned the 7-Eleven for four years, and had already been heavily involved in volunteering initiatives, many of them with Flagler Beach Mayor Linda Provencher and Flagler Beach resident Carla Cline–a trio that calls itself the Flagler Beach All Stars.

Cooley was known before and after his election as a deliberate, calm, fact-based analyst,a pro-business advocate who grounds his points in evidence. But residents in Flagler Beach have also spoken of seeing his temper flare at the store, with customers or co-workers.

When Cooley is released, it won’t be as simple as resuming routines while awaiting the next step in the court case: judges typically impose a no-contact order on individuals arrested on a domestic violence charge: no contact with their alleged victim means they may not be sharing living or working space. Cooley and Kenna share both. (He was released on his own recognizance at 9:34 a.m. Saturday.)

“This is an unfortunate situation but it goes to show you that domestic violence has no boundaries,” Sheriff Rick Staly was quoted as saying in a release issued Saturday morning with the arrest report. “Unfortunate” is also the word Flagler Beach Commission Chairman Rick Belhumeur used when asked for a comment. Belhumeur and Cooley have often worked together on civic issues going back to before Cooley was elected: on Friday, Belhumeur had been in contact with Cooley about an old guard tower Cooley was buying from the city to donate to Tortugas, the restaurant. The two of them had painted new guard towers together last year.

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36 Responses for “Flagler Beach Commissioner Eric Cooley Arrested on Domestic Violence Charge”

  1. BeechBoy says:

    #METOO means he must go, Right?

  2. Jmb says:

    I see no facts being reported just a resume about how a great citizen he is who is a control freak hope he didnt hurt sue his girlfriend he treats as a slave

  3. smarterthanmost says:

    Hope this isn’t true, but there must be some basis for the arrest.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunate? You’ve got to be kidding me! Way to downplay and minimize physical abuse. While I understand there are only allegations at the moment…but politicians are never ones to hold back on comments filled with righteous indignation. I guess that only happens it is one of their own that is accused. Shameful. They were better off not saying anything at all.

  5. s30mike says:

    I hope 7-Eleven is held liable for one of their franchisees assaulting a women/employee on their property. Props to the co-worker who did the right thing and reported this. I’m sure they are now without a job.

  6. Concerned Citizen says:

    I don’t care how much of a “nice guy” or do gooder you might be.

    It’s never OK for a man to put his hands on a woman. Arguing is one thing but if you have to slam someone around and kick them with steel toe boots you obviously have issues.

    Once the incident is confirmed and if found guilty Commissioner Cooley should be forced to resign. 7-11 also needs to take steps to protect it’s employees. I have been in this store and have seen temper flare ups. And not just when it’s busy.

    Finally I hope the victim reaches out for counseling because it sounds like this has been an ongoing situation.

    Ladies no matter how much you think you love someone they aren’t worth dying over. I spent almost 20 years in Public Safety and DV cases are some of the worst to handle. When the man starts controlling you and puts hands on you it’s time to get out !!

    Also I hope Flagler Beach does the right thing and addresses this properly.

  7. Just The Truth says:

    Well Flagler Beach officials, if these charges stick I suggest you remove him as your commissioner. Domestic violence is a crime, so he needs to pay the time for the crime.

  8. JohnX says:

    Maybe they should break up and find other partners

  9. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Anonymous, At least I’m not ashamed to use my real name when making public comments. “Unfortunate” has several different meanings. When I said unfortunate, I didn’t mean “unlucky”, I meant “regrettable or inappropriate”. That’s all that really can be said it this point as they are still “alleged charges”. If you believe that you can do better, put your big boy/girl pants on and run for office.

  10. Jmb says:

    Hey sue call Morgan an Morgan u will get what u deserve freedom and money

  11. Flagler Female says:

    Please tell me he will lose his seat on the Commission. If you can’t keep your hands off of a woman you have no business making judgment calls for the City.

  12. Frank says:

    I always had bad vibes when going into that 7/11.

  13. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Rick

    Why don’t you put your big boy pants on and stop making smart ass remarks towards your constituents. You’ll defend Commissioner Cooley because it’s a good old boys system. That’s OK we will remember at election time.

    At least Chief Doughney did the the right thing and turned it over to the Sheriff’s Office.

    He should have been removed from his position as soon as he was arrested. If the Investigating Deputies found bruises and video evidence supports the incident/charges then it’s no longer alleged.

    If you’re out there getting arrested for beating up women you have no business holding office or running a business that has mostly female employees.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Belhumeur,

    What does it matter what my name is? Why so defensive? That fact that you ARE getting so defensive when a citizen expresses disappointment speaks volumes. All I’m saying is that one should be cognizant about how one comes across to the public when making a public statement. Perception is reality in the public eye, like it or not. And to me, if a person physically batters his or her intimate partner such as this story alleges, I don’t think “unfortunate” is the appropriate response (not that you, or anyone else, was required to comment) Disgusting, unacceptable, abhorrent…I would be couching the allegations in those terms. To anyone who has been on the receiving end of that kick, or that slap, or that punch, “unfortunate” makes it sound like a misunderstanding, not to be taken seriously.

  15. K says:

    I agree with Concerned Citizen with one exception. Being the abuser or the abused is not dependent upon gender. Both women and men can be abusers and both women and men can be victims.

  16. Technical Junkie says:

    Rick Belhumeur: according to your bio on the City of Flagler Beach page —

    “The day I become more concerned about the position I hold than the people I represent, is the day I become a politician and don’t deserve a seat on the Commission”

    Perhaps it’s time you step down as you sure as hell sound like a politician to me and not someone concerned about the citizens you represent.

    Citizens are expressing their disgust for behavior by one of their commissioners, which they have every right to do. Telling someone who is commenting on this to “put their big boy pants on” simply because they choose not to put their real name in the comments section of an article proves how much of a politician you are.

  17. Roll on 2 says:

    Remember he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law!

  18. FlagerRedo says:

    If you live in town, it wasn’t even a secret that Eric abused Sue, all you need to do was shop there occasionally to confirm the rumor. I don’t particularly care for Eric, how he treats his employees, or how he runs his business. I shopped at Shell. Mr Belhumeur, I’m sure Eric showed you a different side of himself. Eric is a narcissist and a classic “bully”. Everything he does is further his own personal gain. He could care less about anyone else other than himself. I’ve always treated Sue pretty cold since I didn’t like Eric. I’m sorry Sue, I’ll tell you this in person when/if I see you.

  19. Bunnell boy says:

    Looks like he drank one to many energy drinks!

  20. PC Outlaw says:

    Free donuts = Free pass.

  21. Fiscal says:

    So…I bet that this is NOT the first time that he did this.

    Whynhas she stayed with him and enabled him?

    He also needs to resign

  22. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ K

    I was not trying to minimize the effect DV has by gender. I am aware that it can happen to anyone. It knows no boundaries.

    However it seems to me from past professional experience that most of it is male to female. And that female victims have been trapped in that cycle for years before it escalates.

    I’m also not judging anyone but there seems to be enough corroborating evidence to warrant an arrest. Once the video is pulled and evidence is put together we will see what the judge does.

    Again I have been in this store several times and have seen issues with my own eyes. Not to mention as stated above you get bad vibes. Having worked Public Safety for a long time you learn to pay attention to those vibes.

    @ Rick Belhumeur

    Your constituents have put you on notice about your attitude and remarks. We are waiting to see what you intend to do to address this situation as well as your comments.

    Your attitude doesn’t reflect well on the City Of Flagler Beach.

  23. Just The Truth says:

    Anyone that holds a public office needs to follow a respect with the law which they are representing. And domestic violence last, I heard is a crime, so do the crime pay the time. And you no longer, have any business representing any town or any government. Step down and be a real man, which I doubt you are because a true man never hits a woman.

  24. Anonymous says:

    A waste of time and resources! Political!

  25. Linda Morgan says:

    Is this guy going to represent Flagler Beach in the 4th of July parade as our esteemed commissioner?

  26. Jacqueline Mignone says:

    I would go in and see the times that he would treat her with anger and blame her for everything …
    Time for you ERIC TO STEP down from the council…. You deserve to be fired from the 7-11 Corporation as well as resign from your position with the city.

    That is really disgraceful, sue is so sweet, and you treat her like that, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Be a man and step down, hope 7-11 does something about this… after all it happened on the grounds of 7-11…….. . I have seen her scared at work….

    Shame on you, for hitting, kicking and degrading a nice women. You are not a man, hitting a women, really
    that is really sad!

  27. Jacqueline Mignone says:

    Eric needs help and he needs to be fired from the corporation of 7-11… get jailed for the behavior…

    Sue needs to move along with out him… Unreal that this man goes as low to hit, kick, and treat sue like

    dirt…. I am not shocked, I seen the behavior when I use to be in the store… He is a control freak, I understand

    that he does not pay her a wage…. Wow…. Eric you are in need of HELP!

  28. BeachGuy says:

    20 years and no commitment = red flag!

  29. BILL says:

    Wow all this hub-bub over ones choice of words??? Unfortunate is a ok term in all this. It does NOT mean its unfortunate for HIM. Also as was stated by another when one is accused of a crime they are NOT guilty of said crime till found guilty in court.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Yes, but as the article said the “protocol” is the Judge puts a no contact for the sake of the victim and its usually 48 hours before he get out of the jail or least 24 hours. Then they contact the victim, he is getting out.
    But by your tone, of this article things are different in FB I guess.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Make sure they get him for destroying evidence if he deletes the recording, and subpoena the footage from corportate! No excuses!

  32. RP says:

    Divorce him then come see me, i’ll show you how a woman is suppose to be treated :)

  33. Anonymous says:

    what a low life person–beating on a women

  34. Anonymous says:

    When it’s a nobody, it’s “another guest at the Green Roof Inn”.

    When it’s somebody important, it’s an “unfortunate incident”.

  35. Anonymous says:

    so true

  36. Anonymous says:

    Tonight, while my Cuban boyfriend and I were going back to the car after listening to the band and having a fun night at the First Friday activities, as we passed the 7-11, he decided to go inside to us the bathroom. He was carrying a cup 1/2 full with warm bear which he was about to throw away before he used the bathroom. Mr. Jerk sees my boyfriend with a cup of beer and bangs on the bathroom door screaming about the open beer, calling him a F#@%ing Mexican and gets on the phone to call the police!! Really?? Why not just say, “hay you can’t have an open beer in here” and tell him to get rid of it?? He actually came running outside after him calling him racial insults. All this because my boyfriend was carrying a plastic cup of beer which, at this point, he has thrown away! This guy is a total a$$ and shouldn’t be allowed to run for an office or hold an office in Flagler Beach. I urge anyone reading this to NOT go into this 7-11. That’s the least that should happen to this guy.. What goes around comes around, loser.

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