Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Road rage warrants discipline

UPPER KEYS -- A road rage incident on the 18-Mile Stretch Feb. 18 involving two off-duty Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputies, in which one allegedly brandished a gun, has resulted in their suspensions following a months-long internal affairs investigation.

Deputy Darnell Durham was suspended for 84 hours and Kyle Page was suspended for 24 hours. Part of Durham's suspension was from a second, unrelated incident.

According to a June 11 memo from Col. Bill Cameron to Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Page accepted responsibility for reckless driving and conduct unbecoming an officer. That was taken into account when determining discipline. Page surrendered leave time in lieu of the suspension.

That same day, a second memo was sent to Ramsay regarding Durham's case. In that letter, Durham was found to have driven recklessly and acted in a manner unbecoming an officer. Cameron said he found no evidence that the deputy brandished a weapon or gave false information to a state trooper.

The Florida Highway Patrol in February charged Durham with reckless driving, criminal mischief and giving false information during a law enforcement investigation. Page was charged with reckless driving.

According to the arrest report, Durham and Page were southbound on black Suzuki motorcycles at the beginning of the stretch when they tried to pass a white Dodge truck driven by Brian Moore, whose passenger was Sandra Willis. Page passed the truck on the outside as the road turned into one lane, but Durham was unable to.

Durham then reportedly pulled up alongside the truck, in the emergency lane, and pointed at it to pull over. When Moore refused, Durham allegedly kicked the passenger-side door and sped off.

Farther south, at mile marker 122.5, Moore saw Page and Durham standing on an access road before they got back on their bikes and began to follow the truck, the report says.

When the road turned back into two lanes in a passing area, Moore pulled up beside another vehicle to keep the motorcyclists from driving up beside him. Durham then drove in-between the two vehicles and brandished a semiautomatic pistol in his left hand, still trying to get Moore to pull over, according to the report. The officers were later stopped at mile marker 107 entering Key Largo, where witnesses corroborated Moore's and Willis' account.

Part of Durham's discipline also stems from a March 5 arrest where the defendant, Eric Cash of Key Largo, accused the deputy of throwing him to the ground and slamming his head into the patrol car.

The internal affairs investigation found Durham guilty of being discourteous to Cash and not properly establishing probable cause in the arrest report. According to witnesses, Durham threatened to arrest Cash after the suspect called his supervisor. Deputy Matt O'Neill, who was on scene, said Cash's phone call angered Durham and was part of the reason for his arrest. Durham denies that allegation in the report.

The charge that Durham assaulted Cash was not found to have merit, Cameron concluded. In the report, a witness said Cash was thrown to the ground, but Durham said the defendant slipped on a pearock.

Durham has been with the Sheriff's Office since August 2005 and Page since January 2007. Both men work as road patrol deputies for District 7 in the Upper Keys.

jgore@keysnews.com

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