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Local deputy sues FDLE over death investigation

Reported by: Sam King
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Updated: 11/14/2013 8:31 pm

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A St. Johns County Sheriff’s Deputy has filed a lawsuit against the FDLE and agent Rusty Rodgers, alleging misconduct in the death investigation of Michelle O’Connell. Jeremy Banks was dating O’Connell at the time of her death.

Investigators initially determined O’Connell died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but she used Banks’ service revolver. The FDLE was asked to take a second look. According to the lawsuit, Agent Rusty Rodgers became convinced that Deputy Jeremy Banks shot and killed his girlfriend. Rodgers is accused of making up evidence, coaching witnesses, and providing false information to support his theory.

“Quite truthfully it was some of the most egregious conduct I’ve ever seen committed by a law enforcement officer,” said Sheriff David Shoar. “Not only were we the victim of this agent, truthfully the family was the victim of this agent.”

Shoar said he placed Banks on a lengthy administrative leave as a result of the agent’s information. Banks has now been reinstated.

“Now it’s in the court system,” Shoar said. “And I have full confidence at the end of the day, the court system is going to figure this out and come up with the right remedies whatever they may be.”

FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger would not comment on the lawsuit, but did say an investigation into the agent’s conduct is ongoing. Once completed, it will be turned over to the State Attorney's Office to see if criminal charges should be filed. 

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