CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Charlotte County deputies are punished for drinking while on duty. Back on July 3rd, the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard drove up to Tampa to pay their respects to two officers who were killed in the line of duty. But, the emotions of the day were apparently too much for some.
According to an internal affairs report, DFC Paul Davis told Sgt. Phillip Schofield that he 21 gun salute and funeral had "messed [him] up." Davis asked if they could stop and get a few beers to unwind on the drive back. While some Honor Guard members testified they were unsure who bought the beer, others recalled seeing DFC Davis and CDFC Russell Epeards buying.
They testified Davis was in full uniform while Epeards had changed into regular clothing. According to the report, Schofield was partly in uniform. The report alleges that Davis, Epeards and Schofield drank several beers on the ride back, and once in Charlotte County, Schofield disposed of the remainder of alcohol, placed empty containers in his cooler, placed cooler in his marked patrol car, and drove off. All three were on-duty at the time and either claimed compensation or overtime.
Schofield, Davis and Epeards have been disciplined with suspensions without pay and removal from the Honor guard Schofield and Epeards for 6 months, while Davis has been removed for 1 year. Schofield was demoted one rank to Corporal and given an additional suspesion for driving a patrol vehicle after drinking. In the report, he said it was a "stupid decision" and took full responsibility for allowing the drinking to go on.