Leslie Pitter, The 42-year-old man who dislocated a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy’s shoulder during a scuffle over Pitter’s arrest in front of his home on Feb. 14, was sentenced today to 14 months in state prison, followed by three years’ probation.
After the sentence, Pitter asked the judge if he was now free to go. It was a reflection of Pitter’s limited cognitive skills. His attorney said he tested at an IQ of 58 and had the cognitive abilities of a 7 year old. A physicians had found him competent to stand trial, or court proceedings resulting from his arrest.
Perhaps for that reason, the prosecution did not ask for a harsh sentence, and Circuit Judge Terence Perkins’s sentence was much lighter than the 30 years or more it could have been based on the initial charges against Pitter: in February he’d faced a charge of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, a first-degree felony that by itself carried a maximum of 30 years in prison. He faced additional charges of resisting arrest with violence, a third-degree felony, and violation of an injunction–twice.
His attorney, Josh Davis, in a plea agreement with the state, reduced the most severe charge to simple battery on a law enforcement officer, downgrading it to a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The other two charges remained. But additional charges Pitter accumulated since that incident were dropped.
Pitter had just returned home at the house he shares with his mother on Florida Park Drive Valentine’s Day evening when a deputy who’d followed ordered him to get on the ground as Pitter was getting out of his car. The deputy had his Taser at the ready, according to videos of the encounter. He was there to arrest him on the violation of an injunction, filed by a 20-year-old woman Pitter had allegedly been stalking. The day before, he’d left a voice mail for the woman, upset that she hadn’t called him on his birthday. He also sent her an aggressive text.
Pitter spoke as if he didn’t understand why he was being ordered to the ground and complied only fitfully, if then: when he got on the ground he protested about being made to lie face down on the driveway concrete, then acted as if he was toying with the deputy’s orders to put his hands behind his back, placing one arm there, then the other, but not both, even as he was being repeatedly warned that he would be Tased if he did not comply.
Deputy Conway’s Body Cam
Deputy Philip Conway approached him to place handcuffs on him, but a scuffle ensued and Pitter, who weighs 230 pounds, tossed the far smaller Conway over his shoulder, according to his arrest report, injuring the deputy. The scuffle escalated, with Pitter in a rage, cussing and screaming as if he wasn’t understanding what was going on until he was tased in the stomach, enabling deputy George Bender, who arrived later, to secure Pitter. An ambulance was requested for both Pitter and Conway.
The next day, Conway wrote on his Facebook page: “So as most people know, I got wrapped up in a situation last night that ended with one scumbag in jail, and with me in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder.” Conway thanked his wife, his partner (Bender) and the sheriff for their attention and concern, along with the rest of his squad. “To shed a small amount of light on the situation and video,” Conway, who at the time was a rookie just nine months on the force, went on, “This lowlife showed signs of resistance, and due to a secondary deputy not being on scene, I restrained myself from tasering him because that would only give me five seconds before the fight was on, which wouldn’t [have] been the best decision being alone. He was not advancing on me or attempting to flee anymore, so verbal commands ensued. Once a secondary deputy was there, he was still not compliant, but was in a position where I felt I would have the advantage, without having to have him ride the lightning. Ultimately ending injured.”
Comparing the love and care he received in the aftermath of the incident to Pitter eating “a bologna sandwich for dinner” at the county jail, he then taunted Pitter: “I will not waste my [breath] on you, until the time comes. I pray you take this case to trial, because I will beat you behind the stands, just as I did on the street. You are a coward. I’m not fearful of you. Even with a dislocated shoulder I continue to fight and subdue you.”
Pitter posted bail on $40,000 bond a week after his arrest. But six months later, he was again arrested, again on an injunction violation. His bond was revoked, and he’s been at the county jail since. He’d been arrested numerous times before, mostly on minor charges (prowling, misdemeanor probation violations), but he also had faced charges of domestic violence and, on three previous occasions, either assaulting or resisting a law enforcement officer, which may explain why Conway approached him at the ready for more resistance.
Davis had contended that his client was not in any capacity to properly understand the commands that night, and underscored Pitter’s lacking mental abilities to the court.
The judge had ordered Pitter mentally evaluated in late September. He was found competent on Oct. 10. Pitter signed a plea agreement on Oct. 24, on the understanding that he could have faced up to 11 years in prison: it was an open plea, meaning the judge was free to sentence him to any time in prison (or not) within a certain range.
Since Pitter accumulated about 90 days at the county jail in two separate stints on the charges, that time will be credited to him, so he will end up spending less than a year in prison. Normally when inmates face a sentence of less than 365 days, they serve their time at the county jail. But if the sentence exceeds 365 days, no matter how much time an inmate has banked, he or she must be transferred to the custody of the state prison system.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Mike Stover, who will soon be leaving the office to go into private practice in Daytona Beach.
Hes playing you all. Wash rinse repeat as soon as he gets out. SMH Wont be the last we hear about this DF.
Why send him back into society instead of an institution where he probably belongs.
Concerned Citizen says
So basically we plea another violent charge down and cut the perpetrator some slack. Nice..
This guy wanted to act like he didn’t know what was going on but had a long line of criminal charges already. He willfully disobeyed the Deputies commands and then hurt him while he was trying to do his job.
Our legal system is a failure. This dude had a history of being violent and of stalking and most likely won’t change. So what does the DA and judge do? They make a deal and cut him a break.
You guys need to do the job you are paid to do. Please are for first time non violent offenders who stand a chance of correcting their ways. Not repeat offenders. Start sentencing appropriately and max those sentences out.
I could really care less if the prisons are full. If you break the law and hurt someone that’s where you need to be. Not on probation!!
It sounds like this man needs a day program to keep him occupied with positive outlets.
I retired as a police commander years before social media became a “thing”, so I’m just a useless old washed up retired cop. But if I could teach ONE academy class I would tell the recruits this: Stay the hell off of social media!!! And this is exactly the reason. If they must, talk about anything else BUT your work! I hope you publish this comment so that hopefully some young officers read this and learn. This deputy made an absolute fool of himself with the things he posted. It’s not Flagler Lives fault. It was there for all to see. Anyone with a computer and Facebook access could have done it. I want my brothers and sisters in law enforcement to get the respect they deserve, but they need to “smarten up”, and social media is a good start. A public service message from “FlaglerBear.”PS: A little growing up might be called for as well, based on the content.
Above hate and fear says
I am a retired law enforcement officer who served my community for over 25 years. I am shocked at how Staley has bad mouthed suspects over the last few years. Now it is obviously even acceptable for fsco deputies to show their disregard for people who they have arrested before they are convicted of anything. I would have been fired if I had said what this Deputy posted on his Facebook. Cops who bash others have no business being police officers. Staley and crew… Your in your positions to serve not to be bullies.
That Don't Hurt says
This cop is delusional! I don’t think Leslie Pitter threw one punch, kick, chock hold or anything but react to this guy trying to use his academy training on him. He injured himself. “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!” He yells as he bends the nonviolent mans arm backward.
Conway had some tough words on Facebook but no brains or brawn to handle the scene !!!
Really #2 says
This little baby cop really was the reason for this plea deal. His social media posting helped the suspect.. Thanks Deputy Conway, no respect for you as you brought this on yourself all for the “Likes” on FB.. lol
This twit of a deputy is a disgrace just like staly. If the deputy knew of pitters history then he knew about his size and mental capacity. All of this could have been avoided if lil conrat had backup for his lil man syndrome from the beginning. … Esp if he was looking and waiting for him. Conrat was injured by his badge being to heavy and for him to hold up. This guy is going to jail for the deputies ignorance. I hope the deputy was wrote up for his actions.
This cop is clearly delusional and a Narcissist. “I will not waste my [breath] on you, until the time comes. I pray you take this case to trial, because I will beat you behind the stands, just as I did on the street. You are a coward. I’m not fearful of you. Even with a dislocated shoulder I continue to fight and subdue you.” Wow what a Badass. With a disclocated shoulder I continued to fight you. LMAO.
What a joke. this cop needs to get off the Force before he seriously injures someone because of his EGO. And taking to Facebook to comment and report on an incident at work is clearly some violation of policy in his department and he needs to be disciplined. These are clearly not the actions of a full grown individual but of some high school kid who doesn’t need to be in Uniform.
I was outraged what this deputy wrote in Facebook and disgusted in the way he spoke to this man .. What about the policy this department has about Facebook post ? I can’t understand this man being sent to prison , the inmates and officers are going to destroy him .. They need a better solution for someone who has a mentality of a 7 year old ..
This deputy is not very professional. If he truly represents the law enforcement of our community, one would think, he would conduct himself in a professional manner. It is sad, that his conduct is very much out of line, and he should face some form of disciplinary action, as well as additional training. One with this little self restraint, should not be policing our community. I would definitely consider him to be armed, and dangerous. He took an oath to protect, and serve. Our law enforcement has a hard enough time, without having a bad egg in the bunch like this guy. There is no room in our community, for this type of behavior. I suppose we will see how our sheriff handles this situation.
Pitter has been an issue for law enforcement in this county for years now. However, it speaks of the maturity of the deputy to post on facebook and resort to name calling. Sure we can think things all we want but we are supposed to be above that nonsense. Honorable, ethical, beyond reproach. Staly has set the tone in this department and honestly, I don’t see how the deputy can be punished as some say he should be when the Sheriff himself speaks this way. We have an immature department here. Hope to see a change come 2020
“His attorney said he tested at an IQ of 58 and had the cognitive abilities of a 7 year old”.
Why does he have a driver license?
Concerned Citizen says
I am surprised that the deputy was allowed to post what he did with no repercussions. Even the company I work for has us sign a social media agreement to watch what we post.
Having been in law enforcement myself you are supposed to conduct yourself professionally at all times. You might think the suspect you apprehended was a “dirt bag” but don’t voice it on social media. Social media leaves a permanent public record for all to see. And reflects on your maturity level.
Another sign that this agency has issues it needs to correct.