PBSO deputy fired after alleged violent encounter with girlfriend

PBSO Deputy fired after violent encounter with girlfriend. (WPEC)

A female deputy arrested for allegedly strangling her live-in girlfriend is out of a job.

The details of this case are spelled out in an Internal Affairs report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

The bottom line: authorities determined this deputy went way too far.

“Police officers are clearly human like the rest of us. But this should never have happened. This is ludicrous,” said Andrew Scott, a former police chief who frequently testifies in court cases as an expert witness on police practices and procedures.

Internal Affairs found PBSO Deputy Catherine Lara violated department policy after her arrest in January 2017 for domestic battery by strangulation.

According to the IA report, while on-duty “Deputy Lara got into an argument which became heated and escalated into a physical altercation” with her live-in girlfriend Christina DeJesus.

The report says Lara “became extremely angry” and flipped over a coffee table. Then she pushed DeJesus “and caused her to fall backward hitting the ground.”

The report says “Deputy Lara straddled her, placed her hands on DeJesus’ neck and began to choke her. Ms. DeJesus felt like she was losing consciousness…”

Then Deputy Lara finally got off of her and DeJesus left the apartment because “she was in fear for her life.”

We reached DeJesus’ father who had this reaction.

“To be honest with you, it was shocking because I, you know, I had no idea , I had no idea that it happened to be honest with you,” said father Israel DeJesus.

“Officers are held to a higher standard. That’s the bottom line and they know better. They know the law. They know what they can, what they cannot do,” Scott said.

Former Boca Raton Police Chief Andrew Scott ,who has more than 30 years’ law enforcement experience, says PBSO was right to fire Lara.

“Police officers are entrusted to protect domestic violence victims, not perpetrate it,” Scott said.

As far as the criminal case goes, this former deputy won’t get any jail time. But she did enter into a pre-trial intervention program in which she’s required to do 12 months’ of anger management training and 50 hours of community service.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office sent us a written statement: “The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office holds its employees to the highest standards and never forgets about its duty to preserve the public’s trust. Unfortunately, sometimes, an employee makes a bad decision which leads to misconduct. This misconduct was reported, investigated and determined to be criminal in nature, resulting in the charges AND ultimately led to this deputy being fired. The Sheriff’s Office will remain vigilant to insure that our efforts are professional and meet the high standards that the public has come to expect.”

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