The Michelle O’Connell case is getting national attention again after New York Times article published an article focused on the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office investigation into her death.
The 24-year-old mother’s 2010 shooting death was ruled a suicide, but her family believes her boyfriend, St. Johns County deputy Jeremy Banks, pulled the trigger.
The New York Times article focused on the work of Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent Rusty Rogers, who investigated O’Connell’s death a year after it happened.
The article questions the work of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, saying, “…with crucial evidence missing, agent Rodgers had to make sense of the mess.”
It criticizes Sheriff David Shoar, saying he “…resisted the O’Connell family’s demands for an outside review of the case for nearly five months.”
When the sheriff debunked Rogers' work and investigated him, the Times said Shoar “... diverted attention away from his office’s own botched investigation…”
Rogers is still investigating cases for the FDLE.
The article also brought up a YouTube video in which a man goes in to protest at the sheriff's annual awards dinner a few months ago.
Jeff Gray, the man in the video reached out to Action News Jax reporter Deanna Bettineschi to say he was on public property holding his sign to raise awareness for two deaths that happened in St. Johns County.
He says he was being quiet, wasn’t being loud or yelling and he wasn’t in the room where the event was being held.
Gray told Action News Jax he was in the lobby area and the sheriff came out of the room the event was held in, and went into the hallway area and threatened arrest.
He says he kept his cameras rolling for proof of what happened.
A county attorney told Action News Jax reporter Deanna Bettineschi that the building is owned by the county but managed by a private company and it was a private event.
We also reached out to O’Connell's mother. She sent us a text that reads:
The NYTIMES article has hit hard in a topic that needs answers and action. Our family suffered a death if a loved one. Our family has received abuse of power from elected officials. I never knew how desperate sheriff shoar was to continue this cover-up until I read all the disturbing facts of how he was on a mission to destroy Agent Rodgers. God Bless Agent Rodgers. I pray Sheriff Shoar takes his 152 page report of lies and when he goes to prison he can ponder on all his evil. We will move ahead for Justice for Michelle. Sheriff Shoar has lost all credibility. Please ask that everyone read the NYTIMES article and the comments."
Sheriff David Shoar did not want to comment on the article.
Cox Media Group