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FMPD officer arrested for failure to contact DCF about endangered child who later died

A Fort Myers police officer faces felony charges for not reporting to the Department of Children and Families an endangered child who later died.

Three-year-old Serenity Robinson was killed in February in a violent crash on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. WINK News learned in court Tuesday morning that FMPD Officer Tyler Williams pulled over Leslie Joe Zeagler, Serenity’s mother, on Jan. 18 and found heroin and meth in the car with Serenity in the backseat.

Serenity Robinson

Then, on Feb. 17, Zeagler was driving eastbound on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., when she blacked out while high, left the road and struck several trees near Rockfill Road. The vehicle rolled, and Serenity was ejected. She died at the hospital. Police said Serenity wasn’t restrained at the time of the crash.

Chief Derrick Diggs said during a press conference Tuesday that Williams failed in his duty to protect the child by not contacting DCF when he had a lawful duty to do so following that traffic stop for speeding.

Serenity’s father, Randy Robinson, said Williams should have “done the right thing.”

Robinson said he cried tears of joy when he found out the chief was going to arrest Williams, but that feeling quickly faded.

“It’s just hard … just hard, man,” he said while crying. “I just want justice for my baby. That’s all.”

Diggs said the law requires that Williams should have reported Zeagler to the DCF, but he didn’t. Williams was placed on paid leave Feb. 20 pending the internal affairs investigation. He is now on unpaid leave following his arrest.

Zeagler was arrested in April and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, DUI manslaughter and driving on a suspended license.

Robinson, who was in jail himself at the time of the crash that killed his daughter, said now that he’s out, he’ll fight for justice.

“Hopefully she can change things out here for the next little kid,” he said.

The completed criminal investigation into Williams led to an arrest warrant resulting in the criminal charges for knowingly and willfully failing to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect as a mandatory reporter. The charge is a third-degree felony.

Williams was released from the Lee County Jail Tuesday afternoon on $10,000 bond.

Diggs said Williams may also face internal charges for violating department policy.

Robinson said he has to live with the fact that he knew Williams let Zeagler get away with driving with drugs in the car and didn’t tell Fort Myers police sooner.

Williams’ attorney said in court that his client didn’t call the DCF “based on his experience in the field.”

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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