Last weekend was unusual in Flagler County for its spike in child neglect or abuse arrests: there were five, in all. Two of the arrests, previously reported, involve a couple whose five children were found to be living in deplorable conditions in Espanola. The same day–Feb. 28–Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies made three more arrests in two separate incidents, both in Palm Coast.
Saturday evening, two adult brothers were arrested for drug possession and child neglect in an incident where one of the two brothers allegedly hid a bag of pot in his 11-year-old nephew’s underwear to evade a cop’s detection.
At 9 p.m. on Feb. 28, a deputy on patrol noticed a man who “continually watched me” (according to the deputy) pumping gas at the Shell station at 890 Palm Coast Parkway. The deputy ran the license plate through a law enforcement database and noticed that on Feb. 25 a man at the registered owner’s address, Andre Wheeler, had his license suspended. The deputy identified the man pumping gas as Wheeler, 36, of 1 Pillar Lane. The license had been suspended four years earlier, with two subsequent convictions for driving on a suspended license. Once the deputy saw Wheeler drive the car, he pulled him over.
Wheeler handed over an expired Georgia driver’s license, and when asked by the deputy, allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana earlier. His brother, Alfonzo Wheeler, 39, was in the passenger seat.
An 11-year-old boy was in the back seat. The boy looked scared to the deputy.
A search of the vehicle produced several narcotics without prescriptions, which led to Wheeler’s arrest. The deputy then reported smelling marijuana emitting from the 11-year-old boy, who had “watery eyes and appeared to be shaking, showing signs of being scared.” The deputy assured the boy he was not in trouble, and only to turn over what marijuana he had on his person. The boy produced “a large white baggy from within his front waistband, under his underwear,” the arrest report states. The bag weighed 11.5 grams. The boy told the deputy his uncle Alfonzo had allegedly given him the bag.
“The act of putting illegal narcotics on the juvenile’s person to hide from law enforcement created a situation [which] visibly caused emotional distress for the juvenile,” the arrest report states. “Andre as the father failed to protect his son [from] being exploited by Alfonzo, and put his son in a position which could have caused him harm.”
When the mother of the child arrived on scene, the deputy reported, she was “extremely uncooperative with law enforcement” and “did not ask if her child was ok,” allegedly yelling obscenities at deputies in the presence of the boy.
Andre Wheeler was charged with child neglect and possession of oxycodone and hydromorphone. Alfonzo Wheeler was charged with child neglect and marijuana possession. Heading to the county jail, Andre Wheeler allegedly threatened the deputy driving the patrol car, telling him “you’re a dead man,” while Alfonzo joined in with more derogatory and racist terms against the deputy.
That morning, sheriff’s deputies had responded to an unrelated incident in the area of Palm Coast’s C Section. Michael A. Bruckert is a 53-year-old resident of Riverview Bend. He and his 39-year-old girlfriend were at Smiles Nite Club Friday evening, where Bruckert may have lost his cell phone.
The next day, according to his girlfriend, he accused her of having the phone. They argued. He then allegedly ordered her out of the house or she “wasn’t going to like what he was going to do,” according to what she told deputies. She packed her bags, but says he accused her of not doing so fast enough, then allegedly grabbed her and her baby, who is not yet a year old, “and threw them both to the floor,” according to the arrest report. She accuses him of grabbing her again and throwing her to the ground two more times. She called out to her 14-year-old daughter, who took the baby, locked herself in her room and called 911. (She would later tell deputies that she and the baby “bumped heads” but that the baby did not have any physical injuries.)
The alleged victim told deputies the altercation continued, with Bruckert allegedly picking her up by the feet, attempting to prevent her from using her phone and possibly hurting her pinky, though she later repeatedly refused medical treatment for the alleged injury. She told deputies that once he realized 911 was called, he left the house. He later declined to speak with law enforcement.
His arrest report notes that she showed “visible redness and swelling near the knuckles on her right pinky and hand as well as some redness on her chest area,” that she was visibly in pain, but continued to decline medical attention. Bruckert was located on the barrier island, where a traffic stop was conducted and he was detained before his subsequent arrest. He was charged with domestic battery, tampering with a witness and child abuse.
Bruckert posted bail on $10,000 bond and was released on Feb. 29, filing a notice of a not guilty plea on March 3. His arraignment is on March 30. The court has ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victim, and to surrender all firearms that may be in his possession, pending the resolution of the case.
Janet R. says
So just looking at a cop will now allow them to run your plates!? Is this only if your black or should us white people be afraid to look in the police’s direction also? Its a scary time to live in Flagler County if jus looking at cops will make them harrass you.
Jill morrow9 says
It’s called probable cause. If you’re looking suspicious then it makes sense they’d want to know why…
Janet R.–Overlooking all the drug possession and child abuse so you can focus on “those racist cops”, eh? Let’s hope the alleged perps you are defending have a lawyer that can make a better case for them than you just attempted to do. I pity that poor child stuck in the middle of all this for having to deal with the abuse and neglect he is suffering from the adults (using the term lightly) who hold power over him…but refuse to use it to protect him.
I think there’s a difference between “looking” at the cop, and “continually watching” the cop. One, to me, comes off as more suspicious. It sounds like the officer found it suspicious as well. Please re-read the article before making ridiculous claims.
@Janet R: If you’re a law abiding citizen, you have nothing to worry about.
CB from PC says
No. Actually if a cop sees someone acting suspicious he should run a plate.
Only people up to no good start getting paranoid when they see cops.
And as a Judge in Colorado said years ago
“Only the guilty run”.
Good work FCSO.
Nice try with the race card Janet.
Look they have laptops and continuously run plates as part of routine surveillance while driving. Standard procedure. Dont break the Law and no problem
The Geode says
Let me get this right – just “running license plates” is harassment now? Why? because of a person’s race? Had the person NOT be committing a CRIME, none of this would have happened. They could have gone on about their criminal ways if they weren’t dumb enough to “drive dirty”.
PLAY STUPID GAMES – WIN STUPID PRIZES
Paalm coast says
In a lot of places they have automatic plate readers – here they just do it when they have a moment or they use discretion.
If his plate ran clean, the officer would have had no reason to interview him.
Whats the purpose of licences plate readers when a deputy at his leisure can run a persons plate himself for “hunches” like the one mentioned above? Way too much discretion and power.
These people being questioned about marijuana need to insist the deputies prove its marijuana they either smoked or are in possession of. Stop incriminating yourself. Flaglerlive, you should have already done a story on this.
These three look like the poster children for what Palm Coast has become. So glad I live at the beach and only have to cross the bridge when absolutely necessary.
@Brian Really? http://www.newsdaytonabeach.com/stories/flagler-beach-man-found-with-about-2-pounds-of-marijuana-valued-at-6k,2696
Sunday, Feb. 11 — 82 pounds worth $501,000 found in four duffle bags. Louis Boyd, 63, of Flagler Beach, Florida was arrested and accused of possession. Police say the drugs were allegedly being transported between San Francisco and Flagler Beach, Florida.
Kudos to the deputy for using his training with suspicious acting. He knew something was wrong when the criminal kept staring at him therefor giving him suspicious and then running the plate on the car to find out this guy has no respect for the law by driving without a license. It also was a good thing being the fact that it gave the deputy the instinct that was able for him to save the kid from who knows what. This is a perfect example of why so many kids are the way they are. The follow the example of their parents. Mother should have also been arrested on aiding and abetting without cooperating with the deputy. Hope DCF looks into this further and takes the kid (and any others) away and hopefully will be able to go to a better place. JMO
Love how reader twists it to make LEO look like the bad guy here. This is precisely what’s wrong today. You don’t break the laws. Duh!
I look and wave at cops all the time, simply because they risk their lives day in and day out to protect ours. Thank God the officer noticed the suspicious individual driving with a suspended license and using a minor to hide his drugs! Imagine that 10 year all upbringing what kind of mother is that that hollers at cops doing their work and protecting her child. The child should not go thru seeing his relatives breaking the law and getting away with it, poor kid knew there was wrong doing by the adults as was scared. Also domestic abuse of a woman and her minor children should land that monster in the green roof for a long while.
Thank you sheriff for the good work.
Trailer Bob says
I have never had any issues with the sheriff in Flagler County. But it is not the police’s fault if someone looks guilty, and in most cases they actually do end up being guilty. I think the sheriffs department here does a really good job. But then again, I don’t break the laws.
The bottom line Janet R. is they were both lawbreakers and put a child in danger (drugs in car)
Mary Fusco says
Absolutely. Funny that the mother did not even care if her child was okay. She just started cursing and yelling at the officers. Maybe they were bringing the drugs to her. Welcome to the “new” Palm Coast is all I can say. This beautiful City is going to be “inner city” before long.
People say what they want to say. I am an African American guy, never had problems with the cops. I do realize there is a bad history between people of color and Caucasian cpops, but to blame the cops for stopping
these guys is crazy. Thank God they did stop the men, perhaps they saved the child,s life. Good job cops.