HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Hernando County Sheriff’s deputy submitted his letter of resignation before authorities could complete an internal affairs investigation into his “extremely disappointing” conduct.
HCSO’s investigation into Deputy Joseph McClellan began in March when another deputy came forward alleging McClellan had reported he was conducting a traffic stop but was actually “blacked out” behind the wheel.
Upon notice of the incident, the sheriff’s office began researching various databases in hopes of finding evidence that McClellan’s traffic stop did, in fact, happen. No evidence was ever found.
While researching the traffic stop, authorities discovered two other concerning stops McClellan did conduct. They also found evidence that revealed McClellan’s in-car dash camera had been turned off several times while he was driving in “emergency mode,” with his cruiser’s lights and siren activated.
The investigation also found that McClellan had reported seven traffic stops which were found to not exist and even allowed a citizen “ride along” passenger to give a verbal warning to a driver that was pulled over.
“It is extremely disappointing any time a law enforcement officer tarnishes the badge or fails to perform to the highest standards,” Sheriff Al Nienhuis said. “While swearing in deputies, they must raise their right hand and swear they will never betray the badge, oath, integrity, character, or the public trust.”
“Evidence revealed in this internal investigation proves Deputy Joseph McClellan failed to uphold this oath, bringing discredit to himself and to the agency as a whole.”