© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2002
Officer disciplined for not joining fight
DADE CITY -- An 18-year veteran police sergeant was demoted to patrol officer and was suspended for 10 days and had his pay cut after he refused to come to the aid of officers scuffling with a suspect in February.
Former sergeant Richard Parker accepted the punishment effective May 6, city memos show. Reports indicate Parker told investigators he felt it was his duty to continue directing traffic during the scuffle rather than joining the fray.
According to a report, the incident began Feb. 18 during the Pasco County Fair parade in the 14400 block of Seventh Street in downtown Dade City. The arrest report shows a 16-year-old boy was arguing with others when a witness told police that the teen had a handgun.
Patrol Officer William Rowe reported he confronted the teen, who resisted, and the two ended up on the ground. Two other officers jumped in, and one sprayed the teen with pepper spray as the four fought. Two more patrol officers arrived later to help drive the teenager away.
There was no gun. The teenager was charged with resisting arrest with violence. His name was not released by police because of his age.
While he was on the ground, Rowe said, a crowd gathered around the police and began throwing things at them and the crowd had to be dispersed with pepper spray.
Later, all five officers requested Capt. David Duff investigate why Parker -- who was directing traffic a block away -- did not come to the scene, despite repeated radio calls for help.
Following an investigation, Duff recommended Parker be fired for failing to respond. City Manager Doug Drymon eventually signed Chief Phil Thompson's recommendation that Parker be allowed to remain on the job, but with the demotion, suspension and 5 percent pay cut.
"Sergeant Parker's actions on the 18th of February, 2002, and his lack of action is a clear case of wanton and willful neglect in the performance of his duties and responsibilities," Thompson wrote.
DADE CITY -- A 29-year-old local man told authorities he was lured to a home on Porter Street where he was ambushed by three masked, armed men and robbed.
According to Pasco County Sheriff's Office reports, the man said he got a telephone call from a woman he knew shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday. He said the woman told him to come over to see her in the 14800 block of Porter Street.
There, the man said someone let him in the house, but claimed the woman wasn't there.
A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. He opened it and three men, wearing dark clothes and ski masks, ordered him to lie on the floor before rifling through his pockets.
The men took off with an undisclosed amount of money taken from the victim. The Times is withholding the identity of the victim because the suspects still are at large.