Sanford PD not pursuing criminal charges against Vice Mayor Jeff Bracy -- not questioning him or verifying phone records
SANFORD, Fla. -- Now I truly understand how Trayvon Martin's parents -- Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin -- felt about the way the investigation of their slain son's homicide was handled by the Sanford cops and local prosecutors until Gov. Rick Scott intervened by naming a special prosecutor leading to the trial of the century.
And though George Zimmerman was acquitted in the most sensational trial that made headlines around the world since the OJ Simpson trial -- you'd think Sanford cops and the State Attorney would have learned a lesson about dealing with hate-related criminal complaints.
Clearly, "alleged" death threats made on the afternoon of Feb. 26 by Oak Hill Vice Mayor and City Commissioner Jeff Bracy and directed at me that he would drive to Sanford where we live and shoot me until I was no longer breathing and a similar fate for my wife, along with reference to her race to further incite, coerce and intimidate is apparently lost on the police department.
Look, I get it it. It comes down to his word against mine in terms of pursuing formal charges. What I don't readily accept is not bothering to even question him or consider the phone records.
Through no fault of her own, my wife gets dragged into this where she just wants to be left alone. Even by writing this, perhaps I'm being too insensitive to her.
This is the same police department that made such a big deal about hiring a black police chief and making sure media outlets near and far were made aware that subsequent cop hirings were more reflective of the city's racial diversity.
So imagine my disgust after I was paid a visit Monday afternoon in my Sanford residence by two Sanford cops -- a captain and a sergeant who heads up the criminal investigations division -- and even a prosecutor to boot from the Viera-based Office of State Attorney Phil Archer of the 18th Judicial Circuit (Brevard & Seminole counties).
Capt. Jim McCauliffe, Sgt. Stacey McCoy and ADA Lara Guttentag were in my living room apartment to tell me they would not be pursuing any further my demand for the arrest and criminal prosecution of Oak Hill Vice Mayor and City Commissioner Jeff Bracy.
The part-time politician from Volusia County's smallest coastal community told me in no uncertain terms on the phone on Feb. 26 that he would drive to Sanford and kill me if I went ahead with publishing a story: He, himself, was the on-the-record source who didn't hesitate to rat out a colleague on the dais, Robert Livingston.
Commissioner Livingston, according to Bracy, was dressed in "drag" -- sporting a woman's long blonde wig and under-sized bathrobe -- in addition to a T-shirt, jeans and work boots, when he showed up at Bracy's front door at 10:30, the night of Friday the 13.
It was Livingston's second order of business that fateful night. Earlier he met with Daytona Beach business insiders Kent Sharples and Glenn Storch at the private Anglers Club in New Smyrna Beach over drinks and hoping for inside information on a potential manufactoring opetation, which at that point had been rumored to have something to do with private industry rockets.
You'd think a police department led by an African-American police chief in the wake of the worldwide media attention Sanford brought on itself with the handling of theTrayvon Martin homicide and racial overtones that cops and prosecutors here here would at least go through the motions of investigating a crime allegation -- where death threats are made and hate is in the mix.
Imagine this scenario: Here I was, among the first reporters in the world to get a face-to-face interview with Trayvon Martin's parents -- Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin -- in Miami just weeks after the fatal confrontation in Sanford; less than a mile from where my wife and I have lived for the past year.
I was embedded in the Seminole County courthouse with hundreds of journalists for the trial. And though Headline Surfer® was by far the smallest media outlet in size, it wasn't like the journalism was insignificant. I was recognized by the Florida Press Club with an award for the Miami interview and a second time by the statewide press organization for trial coverage.
On Monday afternoon, shortly after the three officials left our residence, it truly hit home that race and ethnicity really do impact family members whose loved ones are victims of hated-related crimes.
The sergeant and the prosecutor saw a photo of my wife in the living room and noted how pretty she is, but they didn't ask to speak with her.
And in this case, Sanford still doesn't get it and probably never will.
Don't think that isn't lost on Bracy who is as smug as ever -- going around telling anybody who will listen, like colleague Linda Hyatt, that I made the whole thing up.
Ironically, it was Hyatt who Bracy told about Livingston with the wig and bathrobe well before he told me.