The Flagler County Sheriff’s detective Richard Petkovsek, who faced termination following his arrest outside a bar in St. Augustine last November, was reinstated this week after a 42-day suspension without pay, and after he signed on to a deferred-prosecution agreement with the State Attorney’s Office. But he faces numerous disciplinary penalties.
The misdemeanor charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest without violence will be dropped pending Petkovsek’s completion of the agreement, which entails completing a substance abuse evaluation and completing any recommended treatment. The Sheriff’s Office is placing Petkovsek on year-long disciplinary probation. As a condition of retaining his job, Petkovsek agreed to make “a meaningful apology to all law enforcement officers involved in this matter,” refrain from consuming alcohol or patronizing bars, and submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
Aside from losing 42 days of pay, he will have an additional financial penalty, as he will not be awarded this year’s 2 percent step increase due all deputies, so his annual pay will remain at $44,289 instead of rising to $45,600.
In addition, Petkovsek will be found not to meet standards on his next evaluation, his planned transfer to the Special Investigations Unit has been rescinded, he will have to have a mandatory meeting with Sheriff Rick Staly, and he will hold the agency harmless. Petkovsek signed the agreement on New Year’s day, effectively ending his leave without pay on that day.
“While the FCSO does not in any way condone Detective Petkovsek’s actions, up until this incident he has demonstrated nothing but professionalism and passion for community service including being the 2017 Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for Flagler County,” Strobridge said in a statement the agency issued on Thursday. “While he was not fired, significant discipline is being imposed. We believe that he will successfully complete his disciplinary probation agreement and live up to the standard of conduct expected of each FCSO employee.”
The incident took place at the White Lion, a bar in St. Augustine, before 2 a.m. on Nov. 23. Petkovsek was off duty. According to the St. Augustine Police Department’s arrest report, Petkovsek was arrested after he allegedly tried to fight a bouncer and insulted the bouncer for not being let into the establishment, though video of the incident points to a more nuanced situation, with a bouncer acting more provocatively than Petkovsek. The establishment sought to trespass Petkovsek, his wife and a friend. Petkovsek allegedly refused to leave, though he was outside the establishment, never within the premises.
“The recent incident involving Deputy Petkovsek is not consistent with his internal reputation or his actions recorded by his immediate supervisors over the past several years,” Chief Paul Bovino wrote in a memo to Chief Mark Strobridge. Bovino supervises Petkovsek. he cited Petkovsek’s “exemplary” record and commendations, including the CrimeStoppers’ Officer of the Year award in 2017. Petkovsek was involved in a high-profile life-saving response two years ago, pulling a man from a submerged car by the I-95 interchange with State Road 100.
But arrest of any sort could have meant automatic termination. “After evaluating the incident along with job performance, coupled with his response to the incident and willingness to accept responsibility for his actions,” Bovino wrote, “I recommend a deviation from termination. Although a deviation is recommended significant discipline should still be imposed as outlined in the attached disciplinary probation agreement.”
Strobridge approved the recommendation.
Video of the Incident:
The 10-minute video is from a White Lion surveillance camera just outside the main entrance to the bar. The clip provided by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office begins at 1:38 a.m. It shows two women in casual dress walking in, past Petkovsek and his party of two women, who’d been waiting in line. Petkovsek is with his wife and another woman. Moments after the two women have walked in, Petkovsek, his wife and their friend begin to walk toward the entrance. They’re stopped by a bouncer, who raises both arms then folds them. Petkovsek and one of the two women speak with him in what appears to be normal tones as another bouncer with a New York Yankees hat insinuates himself in and out of the discussion, which continues. Numerous people walk out of the bar meanwhile as others mill about the entrance. Petkovsek leans back against a banister. He’s calm. Almost four minutes in, he’s still leaning back but one of the bouncers is near him, the two are exchanging words, and Petkovsek’s wife is between them. Others gather around. Petkovsek is talking, but he remains on the banister, his hands against it. Visually, there’s no show of aggression, but other staff members are now around him and his party, and one of the bouncers is flashing pictures of Petkovsek with a cell phone, and of his wife and their friend–repeatedly. Then Petkovsek takes a picture of the bouncers, and for a moment they look like they’re just exchanging pictures at a social gathering, though Petkovsek’s friend is in a more active conversation with one of the staffers.
The video is only a 10-minute clip, has no sound and of course conveys only one angle of what went on. But based on the video footage until that point, Petkovsek at no point has appeared disorderly, has “endangered the safety of another person,” as his arrest report states, or “caused a public disturbance.” His arrest report states he “attempted to start a fight with a bouncer.” That may be the case, but it’s not apparent from the video clip.
Almost seven minutes in, two police officers approach. Only at that point does Petkovsek seem a bit more agitated as he speaks with one of the bouncers. But the bouncer looks more aggressive than Petkovsek does–the bouncer is in Petkovsek’s face. The arrest report will describe it as “a screaming match,” with Petkovsek “yelling multiple obscenities at the bouncer and threatening him.” An officer walks toward Petkovsek and, placing an arm on Petkovsek’s left shoulder, walks him away from the entrance area. The arrest report states Petkovsek at that point yelled “you’re lucky” to the bouncer. A second officer, Petkovsek’s wife and their friend also walk away in a cluster. But there is no indication of a public “disturbance”: patrons are milling about, with more curiosity than concern.
Petkovsek and the officer are well away from the entrance, deep in the parking lot, when matters quickly escalate. Petkovsek is seen walking very slowly away from the cluster of his wife, her friend and the second officer when the first officer grabs his arm and twirls him around. The two appear to be exchanging words and Petkovsek keeps walking backwards, away from the officer. The second officer then rushes Petkovsek and both officers slam him to the ground and handcuff him.
The officer had asked for identification, so Petkovsek could be trespassed, and Petkovsek, according to the arrest report, told the officer “fuck you” and “began to walk away from me so I grabbed the back of his left arm. At this time he quickly pulled his arm away from me so I attempted to grab his arm again, to which he began tensing up. He again tensed up while he was on the ground and I was attempting to place cuffs on him.”
The Internal Affairs investigation involved no interviews with anyone but Petkovsek, and reviews of documents such as the St. Augustine Police Department’s arrest report and the White Lion’s surveillance video.
Petkovsek’s description of the incident to an internal affairs investigator tracks closely with the first few minutes of the video: his wife was questioning why they weren’t being let in even though two women had just walked in. “The bouncer became extremely rude and began clapping in Mrs. Petkovsek’s face,” he told the investigator, which made him defensive. The bouncer claimed the two women were employees, and that Petkovsek and his party were being denied “because he said so.” That bouncer walked away, and another bouncer showed up and began calmly conversing with his wife, but the first bouncer returned, bumped into him–Petkovsek believes it was intentional–and triggered another confrontation. Video footage seems to confirm Petkovsek’s version.
“Petkovsek admitted that he was not in the right frame of mind, and that the bouncer’s actions ‘set me off,'” the internal investigation states. That’s when profanities flew–though profanities are not against the law.
Here’s where the video and Petkovsek’s accounts diverge somewhat: Petkovsek, according to what he told the internal affairs investigator, “remembered someone coming up and grabbing ahold of his arm, and asking for identification. Petkovsek advised that he believed it to be the second bouncer, so he pulled his arm and advised that he was leaving. Petkovsek advised it was at that point that he was immediately taken to the ground, and restrained by Law Enforcement Officers. Petkovsek advised that was when he then realized that these were Police Officers, so he immediately complied. Petkovsek advised that he is certain that had he not been as intoxicated as he was at that time, none of this scenario would have taken place.”
The video does show the officer grabbing Petkovsek to begin walking him away from the scene, and the two walk away together, in such a way that Petkovsek clearly would have known he was with an officer, just as his party was following him with the other officer. The physical confrontation took place moments later as Petkovsek was walking away from the officer.
“Petkovsek advised that he fully acknowledges that his behavior was totally unacceptable, and he is profoundly apologetic for his actions,” the internal affairs investigation states. “Petkovsek further acknowledged that he knows he must conduct himself at a much higher level at all times, to include being off-duty. Petkovsek additionally stated that he is prepared to accept whatever discipline is imposed. Petkovsek intimated that he would like to formally apologize to Sheriff Staly, and he understands that his actions have shed a negative light, on not only himself but the Sheriff, and the Agency as a whole. Petkovsek, in closing, advised that he intends to never allow such an incident to occur again.”
I’m glad he was given a chance to redeem himself. Everyone has an off night.
Here’s to a more peaceful New Year for the detective.
Chief Bovino is a stand up guy for having his back as well. Nobody should be judged on one lapse in judgement. No one was hurt. No damages.
Tell that to the general public that gets railroaded thru the system every time they lapse or no one gets hurt or property damaged.See how that works for you. Its an unacceptable double standard exhibited by our Sheriffs office and vote him out because of it.
Land of no turn signals says says
Good cop with one bad decision he deserves a second chance.The young blonde girl seems to be stirring the pot with a lot of fingers in the face of the bouncer.
Joan greenert says
Just because the woman was using a form of ‘sign-language’ or as gestures or just a way of expressing herself, I think the bouncer s) was out of control, too! You can see the one bouncer laughing! It appears to me that the initial bouncer who stopped those 3 people, with his arms extended to prohibit entry, acted more like a ‘bully’ & wanted to show his authority, like HE exaggerated the situation and caused more anger from the parties involved. I don’t believe that it was necessary for the Policemen to throw this man down to the ground! But then, there was No Voice-Activated video-cameras to detect the beginning & end of it all!
Yeah Mr. Smith one mistake guess what.? He gets full extent of Law. As LEO He and the rest should be subject to full extent of Law an even higher standard.. To hell with internal disciplinary BS. Should be accountable just like the general public. No favoritism . What pisses me off the most is it crosses County lines and that makes it more corrupt/double standard/good ole boy network in my mind. There is no valid reason to drop charges. Hold him to his actions. No special treatment.
I say bullshit. No charges should be dropped. He should be treated like anyone and everyone else. Run him thru the system. Personally I would have fired him. Zero tolerance should be the benchmark. Sorry I hope it all backfires and you look like the hypocritical jerks that you are. Once again Bullshit. Sheriff wont be getting my vote. Favoritism doesnt flush in this case . Corruption plain and simple.
What’s funny is if it was anyone else besides a cop, the charges would have been dropped immediately. You don’t know what you’re talking about. He probably suffered more of a penalty than most in a misdemeanor situation like this.
Forgot to say good ole boy network front and center. He should also have been tested for substances especially steroids. He should not be allowed to wear a badge in this County or any other. Making a big mistake.
Retired FD I know a good therapist if you want . You dept saved my life
Concerned Citizen says
Completle BS on this one. Nothing like the goold ol boy network looking after each other.
Between the military and law enforcement then retiring from Fire Rescue I spent the majority of my adult life in Public Safety. I took an oath for each position. And it meant something. Myself and most of my co workers completed our careers with no disciplinary issues because we were adults and that was what was expected. Now someone goes and acts like an ass and gets away free with it.
Decisions like this are what causes the public to loose faith in it’s law enforcement agencies and it’s Sheriff. This detective willingly went out and got himself into a situation he was responsible for. No one else made him do it. Now he gets a free pass with minor disciplinary actions. Boo hoo.
Had that been a civilian or a deputy of another race we would still be sitting in the county jail. Either struggling to make bond or have no bond until court. And forget any charges being dropped. Most of the time the State Attorney finds more to tack on.
This was a bad call on everyone involved. I don’t want sworn law enforcement officers who can’t uphold their oath running around with guns. I hope the Sheriff is reading the article and comments. With election time coming he needs to be careful who he protects. The public remembers this
Meh….he looks pretty docile until the jerk bouncer egged him on. The blond girl looks like she was running her mouth constantly. So a bouncer does not let you in…go elsewhere. All this because a stupid bouncer wouldn’t let you in??? Foolish.
Frank Serpico says
It was 20 minutes till the place closed, and the bouncers weren’t letting anyone else in. Apparently the detective did not want to take no for an answer.
It’s not fair that the bouncers let the two hotties in. But hey… that’s life.
Willy Boy says
“I’ve been around that trashy behavior all my life.” – Sam the Lion.
Concerned Citizen says
Someone should ask the agency to explain the difference between firing the officer who tussled with the inmate and this situation…hmm? One was allowed to “redeem” them self and the other was tossed out on his butt.
Concerned Citizen says
Quote from the Sheriff regarding the inmate tussle.
“this action is not a reflection of the many men and women that serve professionally keeping us safe from some of the worst people in society.”
Maybe one supports the current Sheriff politically and the other didn’t. The average joe may be surprised how the inner politics of an agency work if you’re not in the dominant “clique”.
Trailer Bob says
Stuff happens. He didn’t appear aggressive from the video and likely this could have been handled better. Too much testosterone swishing around in this case.
But I do feel he should be given a second chance, as all of us should.
The impression that I get from that video is that those bouncers specially the one, are actually bullying Petrovsek, wife and companion and totally preventing him access to the establishment …why that aggressive insulting attitude, while making fun of them? Maybe they knew Petrovsek was a Flagler County sheriff officer and decided to bully and taunt him? I remember about 25 years ago while we were younger occasionally used to go to those bars in St Augustine after dinner as a group. One bar was Scarlet O’Hara and there was a bit of rowdy behavior there and recall several times were were treated with a joking disdain as being from Palm Coast “Oh yeah were the rich live”. For that reason we stopped patronizing the St Augustine bars and went to the Ormond Beach area instead were welcomed.
In the video while in camera Petrovsek does not show any aggressive attitude as all seemed to unfold once he is taken away from camera view…do those two St Augustine officers had body cameras to show what Petrovsek behavior was away from the bars cameras..? Was he treated fair as he was non aggressive on camera? Maybe something that should be looked at too? I agree that for any law enforcement visiting bars is risking trouble…but also they have the right to have a life too specially when young. They are exposed to the hardship of jobs that none of us would be willing to do, and none of us are perfect. As for my personal opinion is okay that he is back on duty and as he promised “walking the line”. Its time that we start taking a stand for our own and do some real fact finding and thank you FL for the video as is very revealing.
Not to get into a “pissing match” with anyone here; because there may be some vehemently opposed to any kind of deal with this detective. I get it. Maybe he arrested you, wrote you a ticket. Maybe you just don’t like cops. Remember this, not only IS he being treated like every else (offered deferred prosecution), but if he worked in a regular job, he would not have to deal with all of the additional restrictions being placed on him! He could just go back to work. I’m sure he will also have periodic alcoholic testing and have to deal with the FDLE standards board at some point as well “down the road.” He’s not done here by any stretch of the imagination. Would you like his first born also? We all make mistakes in life. Even cops. Amazing!
I would like to see the St. AG find the reason why two Counties decide that dropping the charges on a LEO who disregarded another LEO direct commands while publicly intoxicated gets off with BS inter office disciplinary program and the charges dropped. It should be on his Public record like everyone else. The Powers that be want to add on discipline internally fine.
If you watch towards the end this whole thing looks escalated by the staff of the bar. I don’t know this deputy or staff but you can clearly see the bouncer at the end get the officers and then come back, go through the pack bumping in to and pushing the deputy. That is when things escalate. The bouncer could have easily gotten the officers and walked around but he knew now that they were behind him and he could get the guy worked up by bumping him.
A cop on probation LMFAO only in Flagler , dumb as fuck.
Kjell Skaht says
I say the following based on many years working as a bouncer in several types of bars and in private security elsewhere, around and with the police many times.
I don’t know and can’t tell from the video why he did it, other than being on a power trip, but the guy in the Yankees cap caused and exacerbated every bit of this. He told the Petrovsek party they weren’t allowed in. When they walked past him pointing out that he had just let two women in the second bouncer barred their entry, pointing to the first as to why. Yankees Cap then got between the other bouncer and the Petkovsek party, directly in the face of the blond female member of the party, and removed his jacket, both sure signs that he wanted them to know he was ready and willing to break bad. The behavior of both bouncers deteriorated over time, that of the man in the STAFF shirt did as well in the short time he was there. The only one who appeared to be reasonable toward the Petkovsek party throughout his time in the matter was the man in the plaid shirt who came out with the one in the STAFF shirt, and he wasn’t there long before SAPD arrived.
The only thing Deputy Petkovsek did wrong was try to blow off and walk away from the SAPD officers. Yes, he was visibly drunk, but so were quite a few others who were recorded on that video. He shouldn’t have had his life and career dragged through the mud nor have been made to proffer a craven apology in order to cover his employer’s a*s.
This cop is a good person and a very hard worker who made a big mistake he is paying for. No need to end his career over it, nothing was hurt…except for his own reputation. I have no doubt he will work hard to prove that letting him keep his job was the right decision. To “Steve” I say, there’s ZERO corruption here. Any first time offender on a victimless misdemeanor would get the same exact deal. The ONLY difference is that it wouldn’t be publicized. I’m happy the Sheriff and FCSO did the right thing here, and that the media presented it the way it should be…as an isolated incident that can be used as a learning tool.
Two adjoining Counties working together to drop charges on one of their own = corrupt
That’s not a deputy I’d want protecting my family and friends, hopefully he isnt put into a position of power or given a gun!
Name (required) says
“Charges dropped” how ironic. Wonder if joe citizen who also lives an honorable life outside of one night of “poor decisions” is afforded that same luxury? Answer; they are NOT.
joe citizen woudn’t be suspended without pay like this officer was, costing him over $5000.00 in pay. First time misdemeanors are often negotiated down to probation.
Agreed, but a cop on probation???? Only in ignorant, Florida.
Surprised that nothing was mentioned about his department issued vehicle, was he driving it?
For a place that already has a reputation of having the rudest bouncers in town they certainly are proving it right. The previous negative comments above clearly did not watch the video. Petkovsek never engages with them at the door, he was never inappropriate or aggressive. Yet, did you see how many times the bouncers took his picture? The others in his group were bordering confrontational, why did they choose to take his pic and not focus on the others? I’ll never frequent the White Lion again, the service and food is mediocre there anyway. Personally, I feel the bouncers were discriminating against his group. Petkovsek ought to file racial civil charges against the bar and the bouncers.
Deputy Petkovsek, sir, please consider your use of alcohol. “What makes problems, IS one.”
Couple of questions that where not addressed, was he driving his FCSO issued vehicle the night of the incident, was he carrying a department issued weapon or a personal weapon and did he at anytime show his badge or FCSO Id. Seems only logical that these questions would have been asked and answered either by the SAPD or the FCSO?
This was the right decision. The dirt bags that these guys have to deal with day in and day out get all sorts of second chances. Why not a cop who has had an otherwise stellar career? If there had been a pattern with this cop, or the outcome was more serious, then yes, terminate. I’m sure he’s learned a valuable lesson, and it would be a shame to lose a good cop over something like this. A lesson for everyone. Stay away from the alcohol. It only brings the devil out in all of us.
Concerned Citizen says
Please stop calling his actions a mistake. A mistake is turning right when you should have turned left. He CHOSE to go do what he did. And knew there might be consequences. He made a poor choice and got away with it plain and simple.
It’s pretty obvious here that had that been anyone else it’s likely there would have been more severe consequences. I mean Kimberley Weeks was foundy guilty and convicted of a felony for tape recording. But Flagler has more important things to pursue right?
As a former serviceman nda retired Public Safety person and current Emergency Services volunteer I have zero issues with our local law enforcement. I do however expect them to conduct themselves ethically at ALL times. It comes with the job and the oath they took. That oath holds us to higher standards than someone working fast food or retail. You don’t go out getting drunk at bars then get into fights. Especially considering the fact that you are most likely armed. And that could lead to a whole other potential set of problems.
Flagler County is full of corruption and double standards. Yet we seem to be OK with that and just keep electing the same people to keep it going.
Kimberly weeks committed a FELONY and was found GUILTY!!!!! you said it yourself, he made a poor choice. what is the difference between a “poor choice” and a mistake. and he didn’t get away with anything. he lost 2 months of pay, and more punishment and probation from his agency.
as for being armed. im sure when he was taken to the ground, the cops searched him, and found NO WEAPONS. as a former LEO, we were always taught when going into an establishment to consume alcohol, carrying our firearm was not permitted. Also, if you watch the video, at no time did he “start a fight”. it actually looks like the opposite, it looks like the bouncers were more in the wrong then he was.
he has paid his fair share, let the man get on with his life and job
The deputy is paying dearly for his mistake. I’m glad he is keeping his job.