The night of March. 17–St. Patrick’s–then-Flagler County Sheriff’s Cpl. Rob Myers was pulled over by deputy Seth Green on Palm Harbor Parkway in Palm Coast. Myers’ pick-up truck had brushed very close to Green as Green was starting a traffic stop on someone else. Green sped after the pick-up instead, unaware that Myers, a colleague, friend and former supervisor was at the wheel.
FlaglerLive previously reported the consequences that followed after an internal investigation found Myers in violation of several Sheriff’s policies. The violations could have gotten him fired. He was demoted instead. (See: “Flagler Sheriff’s Cpl. Rob Myers, Who’d Been Drinking and Driving, Demoted Following Heated Stop.”)
The previous report was based only on the investigation. Although a request for Green’s body cam video was filed on Aug. 30, the day after the publication of the report on the investigation, it took the Sheriff’s Office 29 days to fulfill the request as the public information office repeatedly promised to deliver the footage, only to delay again and again, then issuing a bill on Sept. 14 for 3.5 hours of work to redact the video. The sum total of redacted footage (the blocking of Myers’s drivers’ license and license plate, which are exempt from public record disclosure) amounted to 7 minutes and 33 seconds. The first 15 minutes were not delivered until Sept. 19, the remaining 27 minutes not until Sept. 29.
Both video segments appear at the foot of the article.
The 48 minutes of the incident, 42 of them captured on Green’s body cam video, are a rare look into the equally rare occurrence of a law enforcement officer policing another from the same agency.
The Sheriff’s Office in its law enforcement capacity mostly comes off well: Green proceeds as anyone pulled over would want a law enforcement officer to proceed. He is professional, calm, remarkably patient, and never loses his cool despite finding himself in a clearly intolerable position. His conduct and words make it obvious that he did not want to be there even as he was left dangling for a long time, without supervisory support, to face an angry Myers.
The Sheriff’s Office as represented by Myers–to the extent that it was the Sheriff’s Office being represented, rather than Myers’s personality–does not come off as well. Myers repeatedly met Green’s deference with contempt, his professionalism with defiance and his requests with ridicule, flouting Green’s police procedures in a way no cop would tolerate long from civilians.
Myers had been drinking. He acknowledged in his interview with Randall Doyle, the internal investigator, that he’d had a few beers spaced out over many hours at European Village. In the video he appeared in control of his capacities–certainly in control enough to argue lucidly and logically, and repeatedly, if angrily and snidely, even as Green was merely writing him a warning and trying to arrange a courtesy ride for him and Nancy Malheiros, another off-duty cop who was with Myers, and who was inebriated to the point of sickness.
Public agencies and private companies routinely, and at times unfairly, discipline their employees’ off-duty behavior. That was only partly the case in the Myers investigation. After the internal affairs investigation, Myers, a nine-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was demoted to road deputy and placed on 18 months’ probation–not for drinking, but for violating the law when he sped past Green, for “unbecoming conduct,” a violation that could have gotten him fired.
The agency has no rules against drinking off duty. Rather, Myers was disciplined for violating the agency’s policy that employees will not behave offensively or compromise their moral conduct, even off duty, if the behavior brings “disrepute” to the agency.
Though Myers’s violations were serious enough to warrant termination, he signed a “last chance agreement,” brokered by the police union.
During the interactions between Myers and Green, Myers alludes to an unexplained conflict between them, an undercurrent that was fleshed out to some extent in the internal investigation: Greene was involved in an attempt to steer the ranks toward a different police union. Myers, a supporter and representative for the existing union, had objected, and the two men’s friendship had deteriorated. Myers claimed–against all evidence–that the traffic stop was an attempt by Green to tarnish him.
What follows is a narrative of the incident based on the 42 minutes of Greene’s footage.
Green, who’s been with the agency five years, was executing a traffic stop on an unrelated person on Palm Harbor Drive, his emergency lights on. His body camera shows him parking the patrol car on the shoulder and starting to get out of the car just as a pick-up truck is heard approaching and speeding past Green, inches from grazing him. “Holy shit!” Green says.
He gets back in his patrol car, catches up to the truck, sounds the siren a couple of times and pulls over the truck.
“Is there a reason you almost hit me?” Green says as he approaches the driver’s side. Green started the traffic stop not knowing who was driving the truck, and posed his question before realizing who was at the wheel.
“I didn’t almost hit you,” Myers replies. The tone is entitled, condescending. Myers is in a t-shirt, a hand on the wheel, another holding a sandwich. He’s leaning back and away from the window, his cap pulled back. Nancy Malheiros, another sheriff’s deputy, also off duty, is in the passenger seat.
“Are you kidding me,” Green says. It’s not a question. He paces away from the truck, then back to Myers. He’s in disbelief after finding out who’s at the wheel.
“Seriously?” Myers tells him as Green walks up to the window again.
“You literally almost took my door off.”
“Bro, I was six feet away from your door,” Myers says, chewing a bite from the sandwich. He was not six inches away. Two freeze frames from Greene’s video (here and here) show the truck inside the double-yellow line, on Green’s side. It is both procedural custom, and, since 2002, Florida law, to slow down and give emergency responders’ vehicles wide berth when passing them on roadways, for their safety.
Green walks back to his patrol car, sighs, sits down, sighs. Pulls a smartphone down. Sighs. He does not want to be in this situation. He exchanges a few words with the 911 dispatch center. Sighs. Dials his phone.
A voice is heard asking him what’s going on. Green describes the close call: “The truck did not vacate the lane or slow down and I had to like, lean up against my car to avoid getting hit and he almost took off my door.”
“Was he drinking?” the voice says.
“Appears so,” Green says. The call ends. He walks back up to Myers, taps on the window frame and asks for his license and registration to write “a written warning or something.”
“Dude, I was six feet away. I-I literally went over the double solid line,” Myers says.
“No you didn’t. I had to duck back into my car because I couldn’t go around my door–”
Myers snaps: “watch your video.”
“Let me get your stuff so I can go write a written warning,” Green asks again.
“It’s on the tag,” Myers tells him, though a cop would never accept that response from anyone pulled over: it’s unlawful to drive without a license. Legally and procedurally, a driver is required to obey a law enforcement’s request for a license. Green walks behind the truck then back to hear Myers: “You’re going to play this game.”
“I’m not playing a game,” Green says, telling him it’s the “absolute” last thing he wants to do. .
“You are,” Myers says, by then his license in hand. “You’re going to play this game. There it is.” Green walks back to his car, sighs again, repeatedly and makes another call to describe the situation to a deputy who’s pulled over. “And, he’s one of ours,” he tells the deputy. He writes the warning in his car. “So flustered I’m writing in the wrong boxes,” he says. He speaks with another deputy on the phone, again retelling the close call and how Myers “refused to give me all his information, because I told him I was going to write a written warning.”
At 10:34 p.m. Myers turns off his body cam to review it, particularly the segment showing Myers’s truck driving by him. He ensures that the other deputy at the scene keeps her body cam on. At the time, the two active-duty deputies are by Myers’s patrol car and there appears to be no interaction with Myers or Malheiros.
The body cam is back on at 10:40. He walks back up to the pick-up truck and asks if Malheiros is all right. “She’s fine,” Myers tells him. “I’m sick,” Malheiros says. Green asks Myers to step out and away from the cab of the truck: “I want to talk away from her, so that I can clarify that you’re sober, ‘cause I’m not smelling her throwing up alcohol everywhere. I’m doing the best I can.”
“Are you?” Myers says, standing in front of him. Myers then walks up close to Green, again in a manner no cop would tolerate from an individual in a similar situation, crosses his arms, and looks at Green, who asks him if he has somebody who can pick him up.
By then Green has decided to arrange a ride for Myers. It’s not a favor. It’s not unusual. Suspected drunk driving is a misdemeanor. Deputies have discretion in all misdemeanor stops on whether to arrest or not, using the totality of the circumstances to make their decision. Myers says he’s fine, and again claims he was on the “opposite side’ of the yellow line.
“You never crossed [unintelligible], you never slowed down, Rob, it’s clear as day,” Green tells him.
“Bullshit,” Myers says, pausing, then, looking directly at the body cam: “I hope your video’s playing. I’m glad it is.” He is wearing a kilt. It was St. Patrick’s Day.
Green, who is maintaining his cool, tries again, addressing Myers with the professionalism required from the situation and the familiarity the two men had developed over their working relationship. “Rob. There’s absolutely zero need, because this is the last thing I wanted to be involved in tonight.”
“This is all you want to be involved in,” Myers says.
“Why would I ever want to be involved in this?”
Myers laughs. “We’re all well aware,” he says (himself obviously aware the body cam is rolling). The two have a back and forth, Myers more heated than Green, about their friendship, the close call, about a commander on his way, about a potential field sobriety test. “This is where you’re going with this,” Myers says with a disbelieving tone. “I know the game, Seth.”
“There’s zero game, Rob,” Green tells him. “This is making me sick to my stomach.”
“No, it’s not,” Myers says, standing in front of Green as Green asks him to get his phone and arrange for a ride. “You’re a joke,” Myers says, walking to the truck. “You are a joke. And you can keep that camera rolling all you want.”
“Well, policy says we have to now, you know that.”
“Yeah. And I know how much you follow policy. I know exactly how much you follow policy.”
“Let’s get your phone and sit on the tailgate, Rob.”
Myers sits back at the wheel, an arm on the wheel, another arm crossed, as in a huff, not answering Green. “I don’t know what to do,” Green tells him.
“You’re trying to win your game,” Myers says.
“I’m not trying to win any game.” Green says. “This is a no-win situation.” The two have a debate about the point, with Green wondering how he could possibly benefit him to stop a cop and hear it from his colleagues. Green walks away, telling Myers to try to get a ride. Myers is heard yelling something out of his pick-up’s window as Myers sits back in his car, wondering where the commander is. “I don’t know what else to do. There should be a supervisor here,” he says. It is 10:47. When he checks whether Myers has secured a ride yet, Myers tells him, “I am my ride.” Green repeats the option: a field sobriety test (if Myers intends to drive), or a ride. Myers wants to debate again.
“Can you get a ride, so that I can resolve this before a commander shows up,” Green says. “If you can get a ride here, I cut you loose with a warning, we’ll be done. Why is that so hard to do? We got people riodes plenty of times. Everybody does it. Sergeant told me handle it like I would anything else. I’ve let people [get] rides before. So if you can get a ride here Rob, situation is done and over with.”
Again acting in a way no cop would tolerate of any civilian if the situation were reversed, Myers sits at the wheel as if oblivious to Green. “I’m giving you a way out.”
“All right,” Myers says, only then saying: “Give me my license. I’ve got a ride on the way.” When Green tells him he has to wait until the ride shows up, Myers disputes it, saying Green doesn’t always wait for the person’s ride to show up, and that he’s lying if he says so. Then he’s back to staring at Green as Malheiros keeps repeating Green’s name, as if to tell him to desist. She would do so again moments later.
At 10:54, Malheiros’s son arrives and walks toward the truck, and keeps walking as Green tells him repeatedly, then yells, to “come here.” Malheiros, out of the truck, says it’s her son. “I don;t care, Green says, “He’s not allowed to approach the car until I’m done.” Myers is also out of the truck, and now it’s Malheiros’s son yelling at both his mother and Myers to get back in the truck so he can speak with the deputy. He works out an additional ride, since now two cars have to be removed from the scene.
“They’re both intoxicated and not listening to reason,” Green says.
Cmdr. Brian Finn shows up at 10:57, telling Green to handle the matter as he would any other and to cover all bases. Finn doesn’t engage with Myers (“There’s no need for me to get involved,” he’s heard saying). Myers is still out of the truck, standing arms crossed, defiant, with Jenkins standing by him. Back in his car, Green asks Jenkins if she can get Myers to “stop posturing, being a jerk about everything.” Green says he wants to “put this whole 40-minute fiasco behind us.” At that point, it’s the wait for the rides, which stretches past 11 p.m.
When the rides appear set, at 11:05, Green walks back out to a ramrod Myers, who doesn;t look at him. When Green passes him the written warning, Myers throws it over his own shoulder., but takes the license. “Glad you’re happy, Seth,” he tells the deputy.
The body cam is turned off at 11:07 p.m.