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Video shows PBSO deputy chase speeding car down sidewalk

PBSO deputy resigns over unauthorized chase. Video shows deputy chasing fleeing car down sidewalk along Military Trail in February, 2018. (PBSO|WPEC)

A deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office resigned after an internal affairs investigation showed he violated policy when he chased a speeding suspect along a sidewalk.

The chase is captured on the former deputy's dashboard camera.

According to the IA report, the chase took place on the morning of Feb. 12, 2018, after Deputy Sheriff Dwight Robinson pulled over a red Toyota Camry on South Military Trail.

Robinson, in full uniform and at the wheel of a marked PBSO patrol car, told investigators the car fled from the initial traffic stop. He said he pursued it "in excess of eighty miles per hour with only his emergency lights activated," the report said.

In the video, the fleeing car sped past traffic and drove down a sidewalk, with Robinson right behind. Both cars even passed a Palm Tran bus and sped through a red light at an intersection, narrowly missing cars driving through.

Investigators said the chase came to an end near Kirk Road when the driver and passenger jump out of the fleeing car and run in opposite directions. The Camry rolled forward slowly and bumped another car, the report said.

No word if the sheriff's office captured the two runners. The Camry, investigators later learned, was stolen.

During the IA probe, investigators interviewed a sergeant, a deputy and a communications officer. Sgt. Bart Jezewski said Robinson, who was new to PBSO and to his squad, did not call out the initial traffic stop over the radio. According to the report, Jezewski also did not authorize the pursuit.

Deputy Clifton Hamilton said he thought the traffic stop was over, but then heard Robinson give "another direction of travel," so he drove toward that area where he joined Robinson at the crash scene. Hamilton also said there was nothing transmitted over the radio by Robinson to indicate a pursuit, according to the report. Hamilton said Robinson described what happened including his pursuit without the use of a siren.

Deputy Robinson himself told investigators he received and reviewed the department's pursuit policy eight days prior to the chase and "demonstrated the criteria of this particular event and agreed it did not meet the standards set forth in PBSO policy," the report stated. Robinson said he understood the policy and would not operate outside the scope of it in the future.

The investigator found Robinson used "poor judgment" in chasing that car for only a traffic offense. The fact that the car came back stolen also didn't justify a pursuit per PBSO policy, according to the Internal Affairs report.

"D/S Robinson risked his own safety as well as the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, even though is actions only resulted in property damage without injuries," wrote investigator Sgt. Steven Venetucci.

The sheriff's office found enough evidence to support the claim "Robinson violated policy by initiating an unauthorized pursuit with disregard for reasonable safety."

Teri Barbera, a spokeswoman for PBSO sent this statement on the matter to CBS12 reporter Al Pefley.

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. Because the Sheriff’s Office is constantly reviewing the actions and behavior of our Deputies, this misconduct was uncovered and subsequently determined to be a violation of PBSO policies and procedures. 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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