Coral Springs Fl September 21,2018 : ( Final) At 5:22 am the morning of September 14,2017, Commissioner and Vice Mayor Dan Daley had a flat tire that involved the response of an EMS unit, 6 Police Officers, a sergeant, a lieutenant, the Acting Police Chief, the Assistant Police Chief, the City Manager and the Mayor. No DUI test was performed
One of the Coral Springs Police Department Officers, Stephen Wetherington, has sued the City of Coral Springs under the Florida Whistle Blowers Act claiming that department officials conspired to hush the incident up, given that the suspect was a Vice Mayor and City commissioner. Furthermore Officer Wetherington was demoted, and reprimanded in his demanding that the law be applied no matter who the person may be. The City has filed a motion to Dismiss, without disputing the DUI allegation of the Vice Mayor. The case is still before the courts. The information in more detail can be found at https://www.browardclerk.org/ .
And now for the real story. Here are the details:
According to court records of case # CACE-18-01577 ( click here for a full copy ) on Sept 14, 2017 Officer Wetherington off duty at the time overheard a radio call about an unconscious driver behind the wheel of a car nearby. Wetherington contacted one of the officers on the scene and found out that the unconscious person was in fact Vice Mayor and City Commissioner Dan Daley. Apparently when Officer Wetherington arrived other officers had already dealt with the incident, by not arresting the Commissioner and simply towing his car from the scene. While learning this Officer Wetherington put his finger to his lips and made a ‘sushing’ sound indicating that the officers on the scene were covering this incident up, and as he put having ‘ No Balls”. ( the City of Coral Springs unrefuted this ). A copy of the memorandum which is part of the court record describes the incident as told by Officer Wetherington is below :
At that time, and stated in the court records, Officer Wetherington was a five year Coral Springs officer and Officer of the Year ( click here for Coral Springs Police Website with Officer of The Year) He is only one of six police officers in Broward County at the time of the incident, that is certified as Drug Recognition Experts and specializes in DUI investigations and was one of the reasons why he swung by to the scene when he heard the call.
Officer Wetherington is seeking back wages, compensatory damages, to be reinstated in his position, and cease further harassment by the city. The City of Coral Springs filed a Motion to Dismiss and Strike Claim on August 8, 2018.
Vice Mayor Dan Daley Incident Details
According to a memo from the assistant city attorney to the city attorney dated Sept 28 2017 titled “ Inquiry to Assist EMS Call concerning Dan Daley”(click here to view) , at 5:22 am on September 14 2017, the CSPD received a call from AAA tow truck operator ( who arrived to the parking lot located on University and Royal Palm). The tow truck operator was concerned that customer who called her was “Unconscious and Unresponsive “ . EMS was dispatched and CSPD was notified who sent an officer to assist EMS. Officers began to arrive at the scene. According to her memorandum , the first officer on scene indicated to dispatch that the person in the car was in fact Commissioner Dan Daley who was at that time behind the wheel of the car. Shortly after two other officers arrived , and then one made a call to a sergeant and Lieutenant Neese. Then Deputy Chief Parry was called and briefed by Lieutenant Neese, who then called Chief Backer and briefed him. According to the memo, Daley refused EMS and said that he had hit the curb with his car. ( note: University Drive or Royal Palm blvd , we are not sure which but both are large streets and a curb is difficult to hit unless of course the car veered out of control ). Other memos indicate that the Mayor and City Manager were both contacted and briefed ( woken up as one put it). Parry indicted to Neese that the DUI test was discretionary , and Neese made the decision not to perform it.
According to a few officers, Daley was not drunk. According to Wetherington who was told to leave the scene after he arrived, a test should have been performed.
Several questions come up following the review of the information supplied by the city. The main ones are:
1. If this was a simple flat tire assist, then why the firepower ? 5 officers arrive ( six with Wetherington ) then two chief’s are contacted and then the mayor and city manager. That is a total of 10 people contacted because Commissioner Daley had a flat tire. Was it just a flat tire ? For a non-incident , there has been a formal inquiry, more than 5o memorandums. and formal report, reprimands and further action to the entire police department reinforcement of Policy. However, no incident report exists for what started all of this.
2. Why were both the sergeant and lieutenant needed at the scene since the officer first on the scene supplied information that it was a nothing burger ?
3. One memorandum ( Neese ) says when he arrived at the scene he said that Daley’s car was perfectly parked between the lines. ‘perfectly’ he put it. Perhaps the memo was too perfect ?? There are a few memos a well that look almost similar to each other but written by different officers. Descriptions as to Daley’s condition are in the same order. The one of the first officer arriving to the scene tells it without any fluff.
3. Commissioner Daley hit the curb with his car early in the morning, was unresponsive and unconscious for a time. Had this been anyone else, wouldn’t a DUI test been performed ?
Clearly there is a question of the methods and procedures that Officer Wetherington executed in joking about the incident ( voice mail according to a memorandum) insubordination in the way in which he spoke to the lieutenant, and perhaps the amount of overtime hours he has racked up tracking down DUI victims at night and representing the city during the daytime in court. The reprimands by the city deal with this fact and he was disciplined for the way in which he treated other officers. However, the whistleblowing part involves Vice Mayor and Commissioner Dan Daley, who is running for another term as City Commissioner, and brings disturbing facts about a potential cover-up and favoritism for elected politician of this city as shown by the PD.
It is important to note that the DUI incident is not being investigated further, as far as we know it, and that Commissioner Dan Daley has not been charged or arrested. There is currently no police report on file of the incident and until Officer Wetherington filed the lawsuit no one knew officially of the incident other than rumors. There are 50 or so memorandums between officers and the department and the city attorney. Inquiries as to the incident taken seriously by the CSPD were done. The Sun Sentinel, did ask the PD for information concerning this incident but no article was ever written. So for all we mere citizens know this never took place – until Wetherington blew that whistle.
Itt is equally important to note that in their Motion for Dismissal , the City never alleges that the incident described by Officer Wetherington was not as he stated in his complaint. Only that the high bar under the law was not met to be called a true ‘whistleblowing’ event , and that he was reprimanded by the way he conducted his communication with other officers.
If the situation described by these documents are true, then there are disturbing facts here that all should be concerned about namely including:
- No one should be above the law. The officers at the scene did not even do a DUI test even though a, according to Officer Wetherington ( page 4 article 13 of the complaint) ” rank and file officers had suspected Daley of being impaired based on the smell of alcohol on his breath, the slur of his speech and his unsteady galt as he got out of the car. ” . How is it that he was given special treatment when everyone else is not? I am quite certain that anyone else would have been arrested or the minimum a DUI test would have been given. Commissioners, Mayors, no one should be give special treatment.
- Why was there no formal report on the incident ? Instead we are to look at Police Department Memorandums to what exactly happened.
- If this was only a simple broken vehicle incident, then why all the Police officers ?At a minimum, three officers, a sargent and one lieutenant. That is 5 cars, 5 officers at the scene. A lot of firepower for a simple ‘car not working’. Since it was early morning , what happened to the rest of the city that warranted the attention to one broken vehicle that only needed a tow. That does not make any sense.
- The Sun Sentinel did a formal request for public information on this incident. Did the city further coverup this incident by not providing all information concerning this ? The request by Sun Sentinel came on 9/18/17, 4 days after the event. The memorandum from Office Wetherington was received on 9/22/18. The story given by the PD was that “Daley was stopped due to his car having a problem and he was sent home by taxi. His car was towed by AAA”. That is why there was no report, except for the fact that the officer was asked to give a memorandum. Hence no incident to report.
- Does our city have a program in which its employees can report incidents that are uncomfortable and illegal without fear of retaliation ?
- Why would a Career Officer lie about the incident ?
- Why were so many people involved for a simple flat tire or perhaps Wetherington’s story is true ?
Of course this could call into question the independence of our law enforcement officers that are given contradictory instructions that they must follow or receive punishment from those in charge.
No officer should ever be put into a position where they have to cow down to political pressure to not perform their duty. They cannot determine which laws they are allowed to follow and which ones they cannot. The incident may have put into conflict our respected police department , its officers and management. Similarly no officer should be disrespectful to another officer.
I am not sure why all of this was kept quiet. If it was to protect the political official then all of this public information would be used to attack him later on, or submit him to blackmail. If the incident is not as related by Officer Wetherington, then there was no cover-up and this issue should be dealt with accordingly, by a clear statement from our city and Vice Mayor Dan Daley that this was all a misunderstanding, and it was not a DUI.
I am also not sure why all of this was not a real story important enough for the news to have reported it. There are enough facts and questions that remain unanswered that certainly could have afforded their attention.
Either way, there is a lot to answer for by our City and Commissioner Dan Daley who is running for re-election – who has always voted positive on any police issue that has come up before the city commission ever since that flat tire non incident.