THAT WAS WISELY SPOKEN, BUT WHAT DID WINTER HAVEN POLICE DEPARTMENT DO INSTEAD?
POLICE OFFICER DISCIPLINED IN DOMESTIC INCIDENT
By Merissa Green
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 4:22 a.m.
[Excerpts] A Winter Haven police officer has been disciplined after an investigation found that he was involved in a domestic violence dispute with his wife three years ago. Josh Mercer, 27, kicked his wife, Priscilla, in the left thigh and buttock, according to an internal affairs report. As a result of his action, Mercer served a five-day suspension without pay, took a mandatory evaluation and is on one-year probation. Photographs of the bruises were turned over during the investigation, but no one witnessed the incident that led to the bruises. Mercer's wife refused to give a statement to investigators... The 2006 domestic dispute was never reported to police, and because statue of limitations ended in January, no criminal charges could be filed, [Sgt. Brad] Coleman said Tuesday. In his statement to Coleman, Mercer admitted the bruises in the photograph of his wife resulted from an altercation between them, the report stated. Mercer stated that in January 2006, he had been teasing his wife, and while he was getting groceries out of his van, she slapped him in the back. In turn, Mercer kicked his wife in the leg, which he described as being a reaction from being hurt by someone. He also said during the investigation that they attended counseling and everything had been fine. Capt. David Brannan wrote in the report that it was hard to argue that Mercer's act was self-defense. Mercer is a foot taller than his wife and a large man, Brannan wrote. "With only the statement of Officer Mercer, I would have to conclude that both Officer Mercer and Priscilla Mercer committed the act of domestic violence battery by striking each other," Brannan wrote. "Once this incident is made known, it will bring disrepute and discredit to Officer Mercer as a police officer," Brannan wrote in a memo. "No matter what counseling or help Officer Mercer and his wife have received, I am afraid that if Officer Mercer is retained and this incident becomes public it will bring disrepute and discredit to the city of Winter Haven and the Winter Haven Police Department." However, the city's administration decided to give him a last chance agreement. The "last chance" agreement amounts to a letter from City Manager David Greene and usually includes a number of terms, conditions and expectations the employee must meet to remain on the payroll. If Mercer violates the terms of the agreement, he will be terminated... [LINK]
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