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Two Damaging Chases, 2 Arrests, Innumerable Charges. But Should She Be in Jail?

| December 4, 2012

Deborah Brinkman.

It finally took three cops and all three of their banged-up cruisers to box in Deborah Brinkman and her Jeep Cherokee in the Golden Corral restaurant parking lot in the wee hours of Monday, after the 59-year-old woman had taken Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies on a harrowing chase that began in the Walmart parking lot. When she was finally stopped, deputies did not take any chances: they extricated Brinkman from her car through the driver’s side window of the Cherokee.

By then, she’d not only eluded cops several times through various maneuvers Monday morning. She’d taken them on a chase a week ago, also along palm Coast Parkway, until she was stopped, arrested and jailed, only to bond out. On Monday, she was arrested on many more charges, including battery on a law enforcement officer, and faces a $23,000 bond.

For all that, there are serious questions about Brinkman’s behavior, her state of mind, and whether she should be in jail, as opposed to a mental health facility. But absent narrow exceptions and individuals’ ability to pay for such care, those facilities do not exist in Flagler County. One that does—Stewart Marchman Act Behavioral Health Care—has seen its funding cut back, forcing it to scale back its services. Brinkman’s story may not be the one-dimensional story of a woman leading cops on two dangerous chases in two weeks. But the legal response may have to be one-dimensional, because the system has no other alternatives. Isolated efforts aside, state and local governments have been largely uninterested in broadening a social safety net that could more appropriately divert individuals with mental health issues from the criminal justice system.

Brinkman became familiar to Flagler County cops on Nov. 26 when a Faith Lane resident alerted them to a woman who may have been squatting in a vacant house on that street, and driving her Cherokee up and down the street repeatedly. When a cop located the Cherokee, Brinkman eluded—from Faith Lane to Farrington Drive to Florida Park Drive, all along ignoring most traffic signs and signals. She did stop at a stop light at Florida Park Drive and Palm Coast Parkway. The deputy was behind her, his cruiser’s lights flashing. But when the deputy stepped out of his cruiser to walk to Brinkman’s car, she smiled, waved, and drove on. She was finally stopped some distance later, when she told the deputy she wasn;t sure what had happened, though she could not follow instructions, according to a police report filed last week, “was not making much sense,” and was refusing treatment. She was arrested, charged with reckless driving and fleeing and eluding, but a police report noted that she was under the influence of neither alcohol nor narcotics.

That was not the case Monday morning (four days after posting $2,750 bond on the Nov. 26 charges).

That morning, a Walmart employee told cops that a woman was driving around the parking lot and throwing paper towels smeared with feces out the window. Deputies located the same Cherokee parked between two cars in the lot, and activated their lights. As soon as she saw the cops, Brinkman took off. Deputy Alfonzo Dillard was standing on the passenger side of the Cherokee, in a tight spot between the SUV and another car. Brinkman looked directly at Dillard, the report states. “It appeared by the driver’s actions that she was attempting to run Deputy Dillard over with her vehicle in an attempt to flee law enforcement and avoid apprehension,” the report states.

Deputy Emery meanwhile tried to open the front passenger door by reaching through the partially open window, only to retreat quickly when Brinkman accelerated, to avoid being pinned between her car and another. A car chase began, speeding through the parking lot onto Cypress Edge Parkway and into the southernmost entrance to the Lowe’s parking lot, where Brinkman struck a parked semi trailer. Deputies tried pinning her Cherokee there, but Brinkman put the car in reverse, struck a deputy’s cruiser and pushed it across the lot, while the cruiser was still in park. The deputy put his cruiser in reverse and pushed back against Brinkman’s Cherokee. “The suspect vehicle and my vehicle were sliding at an angle to the side in which the suspect vehicle almost pinned Deputy Dillard against the semi-trailer,” the report reads.

From there, Brinkman fled again, driving to the Golden Corral  parking lot where again the Cherokee and a deputy’s cruiser locked horns as deputies attempted to keep Brinkman from returning to the road. It finally took three cruisers to pin her vehicle at the edge of the parking lot.

Brinkman’s speech was slurred, the report states, and she emitted a strong odor of alcohol. A blood analysis taken by medical staff at Florida Hospital Flagler, where she was taken after she was bleeding from both knees and said her nose was injured, showed a blood alcohol content of 0.374 percent. The Florida legal limit is 0.08.

Deputies placed the damage to the trailer at $1,000, and to the cruisers at $10,000. Dillard sustained minor injuries and was briefly treated at Florida Hospital Flagler. Brinkman refused to submit to a blood or urine test in reference to driving under the influence, the report states. She was charged with aggravated battery against a law enforcement officer, driving under the influence with injury, felony criminal mischief, and fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement.

While mental health services in Flagler County are elusive, the Flagler County Health Department—whose own budget has been shrinking under Gov. Rick Scott’s administration–has been pursuing a federal grant that would establish a community health care center that would expand medical services available to the indigent. One of the center’s required components, said Patrick Johnson, the department’s administrator, is mental health services, but only on an outpatient basis.

Brinkman, a month shy of 60, may be in full control of her capacities, committing willful if alleged criminal acts while placing cops and others in danger: while there have been efforts locally to better train cops to detect behavior caused by mental health issues as opposed to outright criminal behavior, police reports don’t reflect those evaluations. They are point by point renditions of incidents as the cops who write them experienced or witnessed them, and they are designed to be as factually favorable as possible to the state attorney’s case in court, should it go that far. But in contrast to most such police reports, Brinkman’s–both this week and last–strongly suggest that she may not have been in rational control of her capacities.

Brinkman’s address is listed as 23 Walnut Avenue in Ormond Beach. Whether that’s her true address is unclear: she was listed as a transient when first jailed last week, and had been reported to be living as a transient in an unoccupied house on Faith Lane. Tuesday evening, she remained at the county jail.

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10 Responses for “Two Damaging Chases, 2 Arrests, Innumerable Charges. But Should She Be in Jail?”

  1. Biker says:

    No matter what the underlying reason for her actions , she is apparently a menace and should be incarcerated. Let the system decide where she ultimately ends up. In the mean time, the public is not at risk and our deputies are not put in danger due to her rediculous and selfish antics.

  2. Ben Dover says:

    No ,the people that should be in jail in this town ,are the shady city counsel members , they have the gall to be sending some ambulance chaser down to try and sway the supreme court about red camera lights,
    how in the world can they go down there and try and justify them, when they are grossly abusing them , 52 red camera light are definitely not here for safety reasons , these thieving lying , light tampering criminals are trying to rip off its citizens plain and simple. and the rigging the lights not only makes us all late to where we are going , it burns 3 times as much fuel as it normally should take to get from one end of town to the other> We need a lawyer for the people to go down there ,and let the judge know, just how sneaky and dirty this group of thieves are.

  3. glide10 says:

    This just shows how our system is broken and resources are scarce here in Flagler County. This woman is obviously a danger to the public with her behavior. Great job to the deputies for their efforts and service!

  4. Nancy N. says:

    The majority of inmates in prisons have at least one diagnosable mental health condition. This isn’t exactly an isolated incident. We are mass warehousing in our prison system people who don’t need “correction” but actually mental health treatment – and our prison system offers nothing in the way of help for those problems because taxpayers have no interest in paying for it. And so the cycle continues…

    “They are point by point renditions of incidents as the cops who write them experienced or witnessed them, and they are designed to be as factually favorable as possible to the state attorney’s case in court..” – and THIS right here is a major symptom of what is wrong with our criminal justice system. Police are supposed to be neutral investigators on behalf of the people, looking to find the truth, not serving as storm troopers for the state attorney’s office and writing legal arguments for the state prosecutor.

  5. Kip Durocher says:

    Where are the tax monies that Flagler County has paid to Stewart over
    many years? No physical facilities exist here after all the tax money that
    was given to provide just such facilities as this unfortunate woman needed.
    Why was Stewart allowed to close facilities in Flagler leaving us with nothing but
    still collecting tax money to provide service.
    Stewart now has their private detox facility costing several thousand dollars.
    Why are not the Flagler County Comission, Palm Coast City Comission, Flagler Beach and
    Bunnell City commissions not investigating where these paid services
    Flagler County Health Department should keep Stewart away from any
    money they recieve or it may disappear as our Flagler Crisis Unit that taxes
    paid to Stewart to provide have disappeared.

  6. Who Dat says:

    This is a dichotomy and a very clear example of our Criminal Justice system in this country. Similar scenarios are played out, not only all over the State of Florida, but throughout our nation.

    Governor Scott was quick to get rid of social programs that can help individuals like Deborah Brinkman. The Gov embarked on pee tests for welfare receipients, slashed unemployment to 20 weeks and commenced drug testing for State employees (to which he transferred his company to do the testing to his wife) and, slashed social programs to help with mental health issues.

    Now, I know we all want to save money and pay less taxes so I ask, are we saving with cases like this. Obviously, this woman has mental health issues which go undetected by releasing her a week ago only to be back in jail again. She has caused thousands of dollars in damage to you, the taxpayer while she sits in a jail paid by taxpayer money. The jail already has overcrowding especially the woman’s section which will cost the taxpayers an additional cost to build an extension or even a new jail eventually.

    Not only that, if this woman is released again, she may relapse very quickly since she is apparently homeless, riding around in her home (the car), has a mental condition which I feel can be corrected by helping, assisting and directing this individual to an alcohol program whether in house or outside clinic. We take mental awareness with a grain of salt in this country. Yet, when a family member is afflicted takes a heavy toll on all members of the family. The Police are not equipped to handle it. Funds are scare. First things first. This woman needs to be put in a detox facility and if it is a drug or alcohol problem – watch her bloom like a flower after a month of sobriety. It takes time and she will need help and counseling but the investment is worth it.

    We have a Governor who is unwise because doing something small now would prevent much more trouble later, thus – a penny wise, a pound foolish.

    It would behoove the taxpayer to invest in this woman’s quality of life as a human being and to help herself become a productive memory of society, yes, even a taxpayer herself again. We don’t know what problems she has or faces but the merry-go-round of playing tag with tax payer damaged police cars and a District Attorney who wants to lock her up and throw away the key is cave man lexigon.

    Governor Scott has no conception of the have and have nots mentality. He wants no part of that and it is apparent of his lack to fund social programs which would help the Deborah Brinkman’s and downtrodden in our society.

  7. Jason says:

    This shows the problem with society. At least in the latest incident, she chose to get loaded, to the tune of an impressive 0.375% BAC, and attempt to flee law enforcement’s efforts to protect the rest of us. She’s not the victim, she violated the law and committed crimes as well as acts of stupidity.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Anyone who is conscious with a BAC of .375 is not “choosing to get loaded”. They are an addict with a SEVERE problem who has built up an extreme tolerance to alcohol over an extended period of abusing it. That BAC level alone (and what she was capable of doing with that number in her system, which no normal person would even be conscious with a BAC anywhere near that) is proof that this is a person with a severe alcohol addiction who is physically incapable of controlling her use of the substance and her behavior related to it. A person that addicted isn’t making anything resembling rational choices – they are completely under the control of the substance.

  8. confidential says:

    What about we scale down all the profitable fundraising’s for our local profitable, sumptuous and successful hospitals and instead start soliciting funds and new fundraising’s to provide an organization to house and treat these many zquizophrenics loose and dangerous in our county? Our beloved just departed Dr. Canarakis started his free Bunnell Clinic in the same way.

    I see these hospitals with plenty of volunteers, building new locations and annex rivaling with the best looking gambling resorts in Las Vegas…(example the one by Rte 95 East side south of us and the Cypress Knoll annex) but we do not have a free mental health clinic for the sick to be taken too?

    We are also fund raising for new auditoriums and using millions of our taxes (Town Center, Walmart) for infrastructure and lawsuits against residents, to benefit developers, but zero dollars for treating the mentally disturbed that possess a great danger to us all? I see more mentally disturbed on the loose every time that I go shopping lately. Two incidents one in Publix and one in Winn Dixie with two different obviously sick threatening men on the loose.

  9. Resident says:

    She is an addict that needs help with her problem and can’t help herself. The guys breaking in homes are addicts too most of them steal, pawn and buy the drugs they need they can’t help themselves either. They are still breaking the law. If you can do the crime you can do the time that is what is wrong with the young people today everyone wants to give excuses of why they do the things they do, they do them because they can and they get a way with it. FCSO did their job they are not mental health professionals they are law enforcement and she broke the law twice with in a week.

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