Pasco deputy exonerated in arrest of New Port Richey mayor’s wife

October 20th, 2010 by Staff

NEW PORT RICHEY – Nearly three months after the wife of New Port Richey Mayor Scott McPherson was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge, an internal investigation into the arresting officers’ actions has come to an end.

McPherson and his wife, Kimberly, accused Deputy Michael Shoup of using excessive force, being unprofessional, rude and discourteous and putting a false claim in the arrest report. They initially alleged that Shoup had sexually assaulted Kimberly McPherson during her arrest but later recanted that story, according to the investigative report by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

After 680 investigative hours and at a cost of $18,000, Shoup has been cleared of all alleged wrongdoing by the Internal Affairs investigation.

While the McPhersons had called for Shoup’s firing, he will not face any disciplinary action and remains a patrol deputy in District III, which includes Trinity.

The McPhersons could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In the early hours of July 26, Kimberly McPherson was arrested outside Grille 54 where the couple had gone for drinks with friends after dinner at the nearby Bonefish Grill, off of Duck Slough Boulevard.

According to sheriff’s reports, Scott McPherson was drinking a beer on the restaurant’s patio when he saw a deputy and asked whether he could file a report. While Shoup tried to move McPherson, 45, away from other patrons so he could get the information, Kimberly McPherson came outside and approached them, a report states.

The mayor started using profanity and started yelling, according to the deputy, and his wife yelled at him to “quiet down.” Then, reports state, she slapped him across the face.

That’s when they put the handcuffs on her, and Scott McPherson, by all accounts, became outraged.

At first, Scott McPherson denied that he ever asked the deputy if he could file a report but according to the 56-page investigative report released Tuesday, he later told deputies he was unsure whether he made that request.

The McPhersons also contended that Shoup falsified in the report that Kimberly approached him. They also disputed that she was “visibly impaired.”

The investigation revealed, however, that witnesses saw her advance toward the deputy and that she admitted to consuming several alcoholic beverages throughout the day.

During a late lunch that Sunday at Fitzgerald’s Irish Tavern in New Port Richey, they had alcoholic beverages, then went to the Cigar Bar before heading to Bonefish Grill where the bartender cut them off before they went to Grille 54, the report states.

The falsification of documents allegation was unfounded.

Other allegations against Shoup include that he didn’t allow them to leave the restaurant without probable cause and that when he arrested McPherson he grabbed her aggressively and violently and threw her into the back of a cruiser.

According to the report, Kimberly McPherson later recanted her allegation of being thrown into the patrol car.

Investigators determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to support this. Only one witness, the McPhersons’ 21-year-old son, who happened to be at the bar with friends, told deputies he heard Shoup say they couldn’t leave.

Those allegations also were unfounded, the report stated.

The final set of allegations is that Shoup was unprofessional by screaming at the McPhersons, and cursing at them and became enraged and charged toward them without justification. Investigators learned that several witnesses backed up this allegation, saying Shoup was “extremely aggressive” and “very harsh” toward them. But while some deputy witnesses agreed that he “instantly got angry,” they said that because that Scott McPherson was “extremely intoxicated” he had to be dealt with in a firm manner.

While they found some evidence of what the McPhersons were claiming about unprofessionalism, there wasn’t enough evidence to sustain the allegations. Shoup was exonerated of those allegations.

Throughout the incident, Scott McPherson continuously stated that he was the mayor of New Port Richey. He told deputies they were acting like “Keystone cops” and that he would have their jobs. He told them he was close personal friends with Sheriff Bob White – something that White denies, calling them acquaintances. Scott McPherson tried to get a hold of White several times that evening and actually talked to him the next day.

According to audio taped conversations between the McPhersons while Kimberly was in jail overnight, her husband told her the sheriff was shocked.

“Well, Sheriff White said that you’d be treated very well and he didn’t mean it like special treatment. He meant just that you’d be treated well…,” Scott McPherson told his wife.

During another recorded conversation, she told him that she was indeed being treated well at the Land O’ Lakes Jail.

“They have me in protective custody, a private cell, because you’re mayor,” she told her husband.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Kevin Doll said that wasn’t the reason she wasn’t put into general housing and instead stayed in a holding cell in the booking area. She was kept there because they knew she would be released shortly after her first appearance hearing later that day. He maintains there was no preferential treatment.

“She received professional treatment like all of our inmates,” he said Tuesday.

Doll said the extensive internal investigation, however, was done for several reason, including that it was the mayor and his wife making the accusations. And with 19 witnesses, in addition to the McPhersons, it took a lot of time to get statements.

“The nature of these allegations were very serious,” he said. “The deputy’s reputation was at stake.”

As far as the McPhersons are concerned, while Scott McPherson had at one time planned on resigning as mayor of the county’s most populous city, with the support of residents, he decided to complete his three-year term which ends in 2011. Prosecutors dropped the case against his wife. The McPherson had said they would sue the sheriff’s office, but as of Tuesday, no has been filed, according to court records.

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