Bradenton officer fired after investigation of allegations against police chief
Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan was cleared of power abuse allegations, leading to the Thursday firing of the officer who made complaints against her and command staff.
Former Bradenton Police Officer Patrick Mahoney was one of four officers who filed complaints against Bevan in August, claiming she encouraged an unlawful search, improper procedure and stealing from an officer. She was cleared of the unlawful search allegation in September.
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On March 22, North Port Police Capt. Brian Gregory conducted a separate investigation into the truthfulness of the other allegations that were put forward by the officers.
Gregory wrote in a report that several of the allegations lacked credible evidence, including Mahoney's.
"Due to facts and evidence obtained during the investigation, Gregory recommends further investigation be completed against Mahoney regarding potential BPD policy violations and violations surrounding untruthfulness," Gregory said in the investigation summary.
Bevan said in a statement that most of the allegations of power abuse came from a special unit that was under investigation for department policy violations. She added that four members of the unit no longer work at the police department, not because of a "personal vendetta," but because they either resigned or were terminated for lying, engaging in unbecoming behavior, using excessive force or violating department policy.
"Throughout this process, the Southwest Florida PBA has continued to stand behind these disgruntled former employees and propagate their negative agenda, despite having full access to the results of the investigations which clearly exonerate everyone accused," Bevan said in a statement.
Mahoney filed a lawsuit two weeks ago against Bevan to "expose the rampant pattern of corruption committed by Chief Bevan and her underlings," according to a statement from Mick McHale, Southwest Florida Police Benevolent Association.
McHale argued that Mahoney's claims were protected by the 14th amendment and that his firing was retaliation for the lawsuit.
“If there remained any doubts about whether Chief Bevan is out to destroy the careers of the dedicated men and women of her own police department, today’s termination of Patrick Mahoney should remove all doubt," McHale said in a written statement.
Gregory found the other allegations put forward about command staff regarding alleged theft of an officer's phone to also be without credible evidence.
The allegation came from Sgt. Joseph Kelly who believed his wife, a police dispatcher, was having an affair with former Deputy Chief Paul McWade. She took her own life after resigning from her job.
Kelly said that command staff worked to take his wife's phone to remove evidence of the affair.
"Due to the many quotes listed in Kelly's affidavit and the absence of credible evidence, there is suspicion that Kelly may have improperly quoted individuals in his own sworn affidavit," Gregory wrote. "These facts should be investigated to determine if there are any BPD administrative or criminal violation."
Gregory suggested that the two other officers who came forward with allegations against command staff of improper procedure while investigating Tara Reily's murder to also be investigated for potential untruthfulness, criminal violation or an FDLE administrative hearing.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Police union president calls Bradenton officer firing retaliation