Richard Petkovsek, a Flagler County Sheriff’s detective who just weeks ago received the latest in a series of commendations during his five years with the sheriff’s office, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest without violence outside a St. Augustine bar early this morning. The sheriff’s office then suspended him without pay, in accordance with agency policy.
The incident took place at the White Lion on Cuna Street in St. Augustine. A St. Augustine Police Department officer was patrolling in the area when, around 2 a.m., he was flagged down by White Lion staff and told by the manager that a man and a woman were refusing to leave, according to Petkovsek’s arrest report. The couple were upset they were not being let in the bar after last call, pointing out that a woman had gotten in just before them.
Petkovsek, according to the report, “was in the middle of a screaming match with the bouncer,” allegedly “yelling multiple obscenities at the bouncer and threatening him, causing a public disturbance.” The police officer asked Petkovsek to walk out with him, at which point Petkovsek told the bouncer: “You’re lucky.”
Once outside, the officer told Petkovsek that he would get a trespass warning for the bar, and asked for his identification. “No, I’m not giving you my ID, I’m leaving” Petkovsek said, according to the officer’s account. He then turned and began to walk away from the officer. The officer grabbed the detective’s left arm “which he quickly pulled away,” the officer reported. The officer again asked for Petkovsek’s ID, telling the officer not to touch him and slapping his hand. “I grabbed him by both arms and he began resisting me,” the officer reported, so another officer assisted. The two officers took Petkovsek to the ground, where he “kept pulling his arms away, refusing to cooperate.”
He then cooperated, and was identified.
This afternoon the sheriff’s office announced in a release that Petkovsek had been suspended without pay pending an internal affairs investigation. “It is Sheriff’s Office policy to immediately suspend any deputy without pay who is arrested,” Chief Mark Strobridge said. “Sheriff Staly has directed that an internal investigation be conducted and is very disappointed in his conduct as reported by the St. Augustine Police Department.” Strobridge oversees internal affairs investigations, but they are assigned to a detective.
A 2014 hire, Petkovsek drew considerable attention in January 2017 when he was among the first responders who dove into winter-cold pond water at I-95 and State Road 100 to save an Ormond Beach man who’d crashed his car into the pond. The car and the man had been submerged. Petkovsek that year was CrimeStoppers’ Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in Flagler. Last month he was among the recipients of a unit commendation, an award he also received in 2017, along with a Meritorious Service award.