I actually caught myself smacking my fist into my palm while reading this story:
BARTOW — In the dead of night six years ago, a Volkswagen Passat ran off a dark country road, hit a pine tree and split in two.
The 18-year-old driver, with alcohol in his system, survived. The 16-year-old passenger, Miles White, was killed.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office concluded that it was a single-car crash, the fault of the 18-year-old drunk driver.
But a Polk sheriff’s deputy — who, it turns out, was a sexual predator of young men — had chased the boys at more than 100 mph. The St. Petersburg Times has found information that indicates the deputy’s cruiser hit the Passat before it crashed.
The death of a teenager chased by a reckless deputy was bad enough. But there was more. Two weeks earlier, according to records and witnesses, a mother had told the sheriff’s office that the same deputy had made her 15-year-old son strip naked, without reason. He had done so while on duty, using his unmarked car.
Now, with the accident, the sheriff’s office was faced with a potential legal disaster.
According to their own reports, they had been warned about a deputy preying on a teenager. But they had left him on the road, he had chased two young men, and one had been killed.
If investigators determined that the deputy caused the crash, legal experts say, a wrongful death lawsuit could have cost Polk County millions of dollars.
As it turned out, the accident investigators for the Polk sheriff’s office never investigated the deputy’s possible culpability in White’s death. They did not even interview him — though he had chased the car and was right behind it when it crashed.