GUEST POST: BEHOLD THE BEARD

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An anonymous guest writer from within the Escambia County Sheriff’s office asked me to post this in response to the civil unrest over police brutality. I am compiling a post to accompany this post for later this week.

Behold the Beard

 Do we have a loose cannon at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office as well?

On December 1, 2014, Deputy John Beard and another officer were involved in an incident in which Deputy Beard tased a man five times. The man died a few weeks later and a lawsuit was filed. This is a news article of the incident:

http://www.northescambia.com/2014/12/man-dies-two-weeks-after-being-tased-by-escambia-deputies

BEARD

On February 18, 2018, Deputy John Beard hit an arrestee who was already handcuffed. This incident was not caught on video; however, Dep. Beard was cleared of using excessive force because he claimed the arrestee attempted to head-butt him (ECSO18OFF003324).

On July 14, 2019, during the Blue Angel Airshow, Dep. Beard was attempting to arrest a subject on Pensacola Beach. The video of this incident went viral and depicts Dep. Beard on a man’s back.  The man was in the water and appeared to be resisting, or not complying with, Dep. Beard. Dep. Beard punched the male and eventually took the man into custody. Several officers observed on the video stood around and did not assist Dep. Beard. Text messages between administrative employees at the ECSO indicated that the man was in the hospital, unconscious, two days later. The arrestee was said to have been extremely intoxicated at the time of the incident. Deputy Beard may have also injured his hand during the incident as well because he was seen in a news video with a cast on his arm not long after the Blue Angel Airshow. According to a PNJ news article, the ECSO stated that they would be reviewing the Blue Angel incident. The results of this review have not been released publicly to my knowledge.

https://www.wkrg.com/northwest-florida/ecso-comments-on-video-showing-deputy-tackling-suspect-on-pensacola-beach/

On 09/15/2019, Deputy Beard was again involved in an arrest in which he hit a man who was already in handcuffs. Again, Deputy Beard claimed the man attempted to head-butt him, but according to the other officer on scene this did not happen. The other officer on scene, Dep. Ward, noted in his supplemental report that he felt that Dep. Beard’s use of force was excessive. The incident was investigated and Dep. Beard was EXONERATED!! What happened to the whistleblower in this case? The other officer on scene? Just as expected, and in true David Morgan style, Dep. Ward was suspended for a week without pay. The ECSO’s new Use of Force Expert is a training Sergeant. That Sergeant claims that many things COULD HAVE happened and Dep. Ward was punished based on what COULD HAVE happened because he did not participate in the incident to the liking of David Morgan. Dep. Ward was never allowed to give his account of the incident and was punished based on, once again, what MIGHT HAVE or COULD HAVE happened. And Deputy Beard? Well, he received no punishment for what actually DID HAPPEN. Why?? Is it because they did not want the public or the attorney for the first case to become aware of Dep. Beard’s actions since the lawsuit was filed? Too late.

And if that’s not enough get this…the Sergeant in training. The new Use of Force Expert, utilized by ECSO’s Internal Affairs Unit as an expert when they deem it necessary, is none other than the Sergeant who left a high-powered rifle and other miscellaneous ECSO equipment/ammo/etc. unsecured in his county-issued vehicle and had the items STOLEN!!! Was this a policy violation? Yes! Did he receive punishment for this incident when the guns and other items ended up on the street in the hands of criminals and some of the equipment was never recovered? NO! He was placed on Administrative Leave with Pay until the incident blew over and then transferred to train the new recruits! Do you think this Sergeant owes David Morgan for overlooking his “little” indiscretion/policy violation enough to write up an Internal Affairs case to David Morgan’s liking? One would tend to believe so.

One would also tend to believe that there may be other incidents involving Dep. Beard that have been overlooked, unreported or under-reported. Public Records requests sent to the ECSO to obtain a copy of the video from the 2019 incident have been ignored and unfilled. Why? David Morgan believes he is above the LAW!

More Sketchy ECSO Facts

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In my last post, the procedure of how the “sensitive” or “exceptional” investigations conducted by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office were handled was explained by LT. Steve Cappas. Zach Ward pointed out how a report with critical evidence that he handled was inexplicably missing from the case file while it was replaced by another report done a year later by a different person. This illustrates tampering and/or destruction of evidence. Steve Cappas tried hard to cover up and explain away inaccuracies told by Sheriff Morgan in his press conference. It was obvious that evidence that should have been handled professionally and securely, was not and many people were aware and had access to sensitive information that could be manipulated for self-preservation by many. I am not saying it WAS manipulated but just the fact that the opportunity and access facilitated the possibility of multiple hands altering evidence to preserve their livelihoods, reputations, and marriages, exists. It would just take one desperate person feeling backed into a corner, with the ability to distort the facts of the case via the digital evidence. While I am not saying it did happen for a fact, often, good people make bad decisions if the opportunity presents itself. This was a politically charged case that could have led to career ending implications, possible jail time repercussions and even personal life destruction. And the handling of evidence was so sloppy, that we cannot know for a fact it wasn’t tainted. That is the reason for police procedures is to minimize opportunities and preserve chain of custody. That did not exist in this case.  My question is how many other cases happened like that over the tenure of Sheriff Morgan?

 In trying to understand if it is possible other cases, big or small, may have been handled just as unprofessionally, we must look at the people in charge of such investigations. Today, I want to continue the discussion with a look at the most recent head of Internal Affairs investigations, Frank Forte. Under his watch, many deputies’ careers have passed through his hands.  Just to give some context and clarification, during Zarzaur’s deposition with Eric Haines, done last week, it came out there is no internal procedure or process of handling or even initiating IA investigations. IA has been used as a tool for the administration to conduct witch hunts against deputies they consider, unworthy of the badge. Any reasoning works and depending on how vehemently Eric wants people gone, it can be a nonsensical and even unlawful process. An example is Tama Barber’s writ of Mandamus, where Morgan decided there would be no compliance hearing that is available to deputies via Florida statute. Morgan doesn’t have the authority to deny that, yet he did. This is standard operating procedure.

None these mishandlings of IA investigations can go on, if a professional is at the head of this department, assuring deputies’ rights aren’t violated as well as procedure is followed to protect the ECSO from liability in wrongful termination suits. Forte being the head of this particular department, is very interesting because there is documentation showing Frank Forte perjured himself.

Because my colleague, Dr. James Scaminaci III delivers the facts as elegantly as I would be able to, I differ to his article on CJ’s Street Report from December 14, 2016:

The basic facts are these.  Sergeant Nix was working a side job in Pensacola Beach.  He gave permission to three vehicles to park in a “Loading Zone” area.  Sergeant Nix knew that there was no Florida statute prohibiting parking in such a zone (there is now).  Sergeant Nix advised Deputy Cripe that he had given the car owners permission to park there and that it was legal.  Deputy Cripe complained to Lt. Frank Forte who instructed Deputy Cripe to write the tickets.  Once Nix left his side job, Cripe wrote two tickets on Saturday and one ticket on Monday.  The three tickets involved two car owners.

Sergeant Nix was subpoenaed to appear as a defense witness, as was Deputy Cripe as a for the prosecution.  Lt. Forte attended as an observer.

After Nix’s testimony had concluded, Lt. Forte told Col Hardy that Sergeant Nix had violated ECSO guidelines in his testimony.  In the June 28, 2016, memo from Col Hardy to Chief Deputy Haines, Hardy wrote:  “Following the hearings, I was contacted by Lt. Forte and he informed me that it was his belief that the testimony given by Sgt. Nix against the Sheriff’s Office during the hearings rose to the level of Unbecoming Conduct in violation of ECSO policy.”

In the very same memo from Hardy to Haines, Col Hardy informed the Chief Deputy that he had checked to see if there were any evidence that could contradict or corroborate Lt Forte’s belief.  There was no such evidence.  Thus, the second Internal Affairs investigation began.

It is important to note that this second Internal Affairs investigation proceeded once Hardy and Haines were assured there was no evidence that could contradict Forte’s statement.  It would be an officer’s word against a sergeant’s word, backed up by a deputy, Cripe who was in the courtroom.

Unbeknownst to Haines, Hardy, Forte, and Cripe, Sergeant Nix, already in the gun sights of the ECSO due to the ongoing first Internal Affairs investigation seeking to charge him with felony grand theft, paid for a court reporter to record the proceedings of the traffic court.

Unfortunately, I do not have an electronic copy of the second Internal Affairs documentation.  However, I do have hard copy of Lt. Forte’s sworn recorded statement regarding IA # I2016-012 dated July 22, 2016.

On page 9 of his sworn to be true testimony, Lt Forte told ECSO investigators, “…and the exact words, I can’t remember but I can tell you that part of it was, I was assigned to that beach for a long time and I’m aware that deputies have a habit of writing illegal tickets there.  And I couldn’t believe that he made that statement in court.  First of all, it’s not a true statement.  But to make that statement is bad enough….Our deputies sitting there shaking their heads.  Got their heads down shaking their heads like they can’t believe those words just came out of Nix’s mouth.”

On page 10, Lt. Forte’s sworn to be true recorded testimony reads:  “POLLOCK: And is this opinion of these illegal tickets or did he just kind of make some blanket statement?  FORTE: Nix blurted the statement I gave you.  Uhm.  He was never asked, what is your opinion or anything of that nature.  I didn’t hear that.  What I heard was Philip Nix explaining how he gave them permission and then he continues on to say something to the effect of, I’m very familiar with that red curb because uh there’s been numerous deputies that have written tickets on that, uh illegal parking tickets on that red curb.  Uhm, and when he made that statement uhm I can assure you no one asked him his opinion or asked him any of that.  He, that was, that was solely on him.”

Pretty damning stuff.  Except not one word of what Lt. Forte swore to be true under oath under the penalty of perjury was true.  He lied through his teeth believing there was no way his perjured testimony could be challenged by Sergeant Nix.

According to the transcript of the traffic court hearing, here is exactly what was said in the exchange between Mr. Chris Rabby, the lawyer for the car owners, and Sergeant Nix, witness for the defense:

“Question: So the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department has been illegally ticketing people for years for parking in front of The Dock?”
“Answer [NIX]:  “I don’t–if there is no statute for it, I don’t know what they are being ticketed for.”
Mr. Rabby:  “I don’t have any further questions of this witness.”

Maybe in an alternate universe there is a Sergeant Nix transforming a question from a lawyer into his own statement, but in that traffic hearing on that day, Sergeant Nix answered in the negative.  Lt. Forte’s sworn to be true testimony is false.  He perjured himself.  Surely there is some violation of ECSO policy for bringing a false accusation against a fellow law enforcement officer, providing false testimony, and wasting the ECSO’s resources on a fake crime.

Was Lt. Forte investigated or otherwise disciplined for making a false accusation, providing false testimony, and wasting ECSO resources?  In the voice of an insurance company model, “No.”

Here, outsiders can see clearly two standards of justice.  If you are a favorite of the ruling class–Morgan and Haines and Hardy–you can lie under oath, as long as your lies are in the service of the ruling class.  In that case, you are golden.  But, if you stand up for ordinary residents being falsely accused by the ECSO of parking their cars in a prohibited loading zone, well, you better have a lawyer and a court reporter on your side.  But what is legal and what is true are of no concern to Morgan and Haines.  What counts for them is blind obedience–the law and truth be damned.

Any resident should be able to understand this case and the jeopardy that puts you in.  If Sheriff Morgan wants you to be fined and/or prosecuted, there are deputies willing to perjure themselves to keep their jobs.  And Morgan will protect them.  We know that because Sergeant Nix advised Sheriff Morgan as to the lies told and Morgan did absolutely nothing

So we have established we have a lieutenant over Special Victims or Investigations that doesn’t secure evidence, now the Lieutenant over Internal Affairs who has perjured himself and been apparently rewarded for doing so by subsequent promotion to his current position after the perjury was made clear to admin. Why should we expect any investigation to be handled correctly when we cannot expect proper handling of big cases, like the Manning sex case nor the civil case involving parking tickets illegally issued?

Anyone wanting to read the entire, lengthy statement of Frank Forte, the court transcript from the civil traffic court case or the result of the IA against Forte for perjury which exonerated him can click links above.

Manning Case: ECSO Employees Contend Evidence Mishandled/Possible Tampering/Destruction

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Lieutenant Steve Cappas & Deputy Zach Ward were deposed in the Rogers vs. Morgan civil case. Under oath, both ECSO employees contend evidence was not properly stored in a secured location and reports were missing from case file.

Zach Ward, the first of the two to be deposed, says that chain of evidence was in tact up until the reports he created on the composition of Leah Manning’s devices in this sexual abuse case. In review of the case file, it becomes obvious the reports Ward claim to have run on the evidence he received in 2015 were not in the case file but a second examination of the phone of Leah Manning had been inexplicably run over a year later and was in the file where his report should have been.

In Lt. Cappas’s deposition, this is what he says about storage of evidence

When asked where Leah Manning’s IPad is, Cappas replied

Cappas was asked about the fact Morgan’s number was in Leah’s phone and the veracity of the statements made by Morgan in his press conference

When Cappas was asked about my blog publishing that Leah had the Morgan’s number

I Hate to Say “I Told You”….

Since late 2015, I postulated that Mark Smith of the Manning Sex Case would “walk” away from these crimes. On Thursday last week, that theory was proven true. I have been distressed to come up with a post in response to this crazy ass decision.  The way this case played out was more odious than I could have never perceived the events as they manifested. Not only did this degenerate “walk”, but he was found “not guilty”.  He can NEVER be held accountable for the crimes known to have been committed against Brittany Cutting or Kaitlyn and Kayla Rogers. How could that be possible? Ask Sir David.  He is the puppeteer of this tragedy.

I can hear people saying, under their breathe, that I blame Sir David for the rain. If only that were so. It would be easier to dismiss me and this post by saying I am on a crusade against what I perceive is the Devil himself. Regrettably the Devil himself could not evoke the despondency Sheriff Morgan has in the heart of girls whose only sin was the family they were born into.

I cannot make a more compelling case for the imprisonment of Mark Smith. I have put document after document out there that support the predatory nature of this man’s heart. I’ve asked the question as to how he got a badge to begin with. He was discharged from the US Navy due to a “Personality Disorder”. He explains he was young and threatened suicide. However, being familiar with military protocol, I know you don’t get out of your obligation to serve that easily. For this reason for discharge, there must have been evidence to justify that Smith was a LIABILITY to the service.

Furthermore, a fellow cop who has 15 years experience in criminal investigations was persuaded to investigate a colleague. Not only that but he convinced a judge, who most certainly was apprehensive in issuing the search warrant, to find cause to effectively shred the credibility of deputy. For this case to be so compelling as to have an investigator come forward on his own as well as a judiciary who finds legal sufficiency to go after a law enforcement officer is HUGE.

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To question the judgment of the arresting officer, Zack Ward is question all cases in his 15 years of service at the Sheriff’s office, including the Billings Case. If the evidence Inv. Ward found was not legally sufficient in the eyes of the jury, how could it have been sufficient for the State Attorney?  The question here is who dropped the ball.In a press conference BEFORE THE MANNINGS WERE ARRESTED, Morgan says:

 We received some information downloaded from computer systems involving this case,” said Morgan. “We have over 100,000 images that have to be reviewed in addition to videotapes. As you can well imagine what a labor-intensive process that’s going to be for us to go through all of that material.”

This means there were images from Smith, Thomas and/or the victims. Yet in a Facebook conversation 10/4/15 with Eric Haines, Chief Deputy of the ECSO, he says:

 I unloaded on him including attacking his religiosity.  But the point is clear, Morgan says there were videos and images

but NOW Haines says, there aren’t any videos and pictures. No video or picture evidence was presented to the jury.

What happened to them?

I’ve asked the question as to how he got a badge to begin with. He was discharged from the US Navy due to a “Personality Disorder”. He explains he was young and threatened suicide. However, being familiar with military protocol, I know you don’t get out of your obligation to serve that easily. For this reason for discharge, there must have been evidence to justify that Smith was a LIABILITY to the service.

IN ADDITION, lest we forget my post from over a year ago:

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Erin Ambrose is the starting point because the entirety of the story seemingly circles back to her. She is also the person in this story with the most influence and has the greatest obligation to do the right thing. Her job title and ethical responsibility is higher than the rest and her part in this story is the most egregious. This is not an isolated incident for the State Attorney’s office. They have been more concerned with covering things up rather than pursuing justice. This is case merely epitomizes what happens on a day to day basis under Bill Eddins and his cronies.

Ms. Ambrose, Assistant State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit, is engaged to a deputy by the name of Jason Young (Jason Von Ansbach Young).

10697416_10100595171443963_3087119126674280417_o (1) Jason is probably the least culpable of the bunch. While he is an adult and a law enforcement officer, which, in and of itself, carries responsibility for serving and protecting the public, he is not an active participant in endangering children; he is, however, complicit.

Jason’s brother and soon-to-be best man in his wedding in January is Ryan Von Ansbach Young, an ex-deputy who is married to Mindy Von Ansbach Young, a current Lieutenant at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

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The Von Ansbach Youngs have foster children as well as their own children. Ryan Von Ansbach Young posted bail for his wife’s colleague, Mark Smith on 3/09/2015. This act which had to be known by the Sheriff’s Office due to the hand in hand relationships they have with bail bondsmen. If they did not know, it is because they did not want to know. Having a deputy, Ryan’s wife, suborning the release of a child sex offender, by extension, shows complicity of the entire organization for which she and her family represent. This is also the caveat that Ms. Ambrose falls prey to.

It is telling that this impropriety and the ability to connect this sort of deviant, sex offender with the people who are supposed to police and cage these monsters. Cozying up with them off the clock shows how little regard they have for the humanity they are supposed to be protecting. Of course, this gives a bad message to all that have knowledge of it. Of course, it de-legitimizes the entire criminal justice system in Pensacola, because cronyism trumps proper handling of criminal cases. This is the downfall of the entire community.

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The malfeasance is that with all these children in their home, the Von Ansbach Youngs, all current or prior law enforcement professionals, allow a sex offender into their home. They allow said offender to come and go freely with children in the home.

Sr. Deputy Mark SmithEscambia Sheriff's K-9 tops at national trials - Studer Community Institute.clipular

The sex offender, who should not have contact with children is Mark Smith, an ex-Senior Deputy of the Escambia Sheriff’s Office. He is awaiting adjudication currently for multiple counts of sexual battery/rape of children over 16 and under 21, which has been minimized through the State Attorney’s office. Most counts being reduced to misdemeanors, even though there is video evidence of his impropriety as well accounts of sexual misconduct against others that the Sheriff’s dept. refused to acknowledge (See my post “Where’s Gavin?“)

Coming full circle back to Erin Ambrose, who is SUPPOSED to be an advocate of the children molested, battered and raped by  Walter Thomas and of course Mark Smith, who were both Escambia County Deputies at the time of the offenses.

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The most malicious of the acts in the fact that not only is Ms. Ambrose violating her position as Assistant State Attorney by being involved personally with a case she is prosecuting but she is closely entangled in this family that neglects their moral and ethical duties as servants of the county and officers of the court to protect children against exposure to child sex predators. She knows what happens in this close knit family that she is about to become apart of and is aware of Smith’s consistent presence in the home as well as his “access” to the children. That is a conflict of nature that corrupts the entire justice process.

The girls victimized by these sexual predators are not being protected by the system. The system is more interested in covering its as. In addition to this situation, regarding this same case, Sheriff David Morgan effectively endowed Gulf Coast Kids House with $50K for a new wing AFTER he personally became aware of the abuse of his deputies on children. This was a stop-gap measure to preemptively control the reaction of the Gulf Coast Kids House when the story inevitably became public. These two organizations colluded to sweep this incident under the rug with Gulf Coast Kids House turning a blind eye to the additional victims that may have been affected by the deputies that Sheriff Morgan failed to investigate.

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This is the price of silence in Escambia County. 

With my head bowed, I say “I was right”. 

The boundaries of victimization is overwhelming & this check shows you how justice is bought & paid for in Escambia County.