HUDSON, Fla. (WFLA) – Melvin Eaves was stunned to discover the gate he bought to protect his insurance business was damaged.
Then he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw his security video. It clearly shows a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputy backing into the fence in the dark. He gets out of the marked SUV and inspects the fence with a flashlight. He briefly looked at the back of the SUV and then drove away.
“He should have at least left me a card and said ‘hey kid, give me a call in the morning, I did some damage, and call me and we will straighten it out,'” said Eaves, who owns Gulfway Insurers.
Eaves said he would have never known who damaged the gate that cost him more than $3,000 if it had not been for the video.
Months later, he still hasn’t been reimbursed for the nearly $200 he spent on a “quick fix” to make the gate operational, and so he turned to Better Call Behnken for help.
“It’s not the money, it’s the principle,” he said. “This is wrong.”
After Eaves turned his video over to the sheriff’s office, an internal affairs investigation was opened into the deputy not reporting the incident. That investigation was deemed “unsubstantiated.”
The Florida Highway Patrol also started an investigation into the accident. Melvin thought he was getting somewhere when he received a subpoena to appear for a court hearing and a notification from the Pasco County Clerk that the deputy had pay restitution for the repairs Eaves made to the gate.
But then everything changed. He didn’t receive the money, and was notified of criminal charges.
Investigative Reporter Shannon Behnken found that that criminal charge was dropped and reduced to a civil infraction. The deputy resigned during an internal investigation.
Better Call Behnken also found that the now-former deputy already paid restitution, but the county clerk failed to issue a check. A spokesman for the clerk’s office said they “dropped the ball” and would have a check to Eaves by the end of the week.