Tampa Police Department will review DUI cases - FOX 13 News

Tampa Police Department will review DUI cases

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The Tampa Police Department is reviewing DUI cases involving Sgt. Ray Fernandez and Officer Tim McGinnis, the police chief said Tuesday.

Chief Jane Castor said the department has created a DUI review team to comb through open DUI cases involving Fernandez and McGinnis.

The team is made up of six people:

  • Retired Circuit Court Judge Barbara Fleischer, who served 23 years on the bench
  • The Attorney General's state-wide Prosecutor Nick Cox, who has also served as a local prosecutor and former Regional Director of the Department of Children and Families
  • Chief Dean Register with FDLE's Inspector General's Office
  • Former DUI supervisors Sergeant Doug Groves and Lieutenant Eric Ward

Assistant Chief John Bennett will oversee the team.

"Bottom line is we need to restore confidence in the DUI unit and the Tampa Police Department as a whole," Castor said. "I take full responsibility surrounding this and I will take any corrective action necessary."

Phil Campbell's DUI arrest happened right in the middle of the now infamous shock jock trial. Six months later, after a scathing report by a special prosecutor called it a set up, some are questioning why Sgt. Fernandez has not been disciplined.

We asked the chief why.

"They have to be given due process and that decision will be made and the appropriate discipline will be administered at the end of this investigation," Castor said.

Early on, Chief Castor stood by Sgt. Fernandez, who claimed he was used by a friend.

She changed her tone when it was revealed he exchanged 92 text messages the night of the setup.

The chief said she was deeply disappointed to hear that, but Sgt. Fernandez remains unpunished.

"That's one fact and there are a number of facts that could come into play in this investigation," Castor said.

That rings hollow to Campbell's attorney John Fitzgibbons.

"It's mindboggling to me that a supervisory sergeant can speak directly to the chief of police and not tell the truth. If anybody in any organization talked directly to their CEO and lied to their CEO, they would be clearing their office out that afternoon," Fitzgibbons said.

Fitzgibbons continues to challenge TPD's decision not to put dash cams in patrol cars assigned to sergeants like Fernandez.

Fernandez pulled Campbell over that night.

Fitzgibbons says the lack of a camera calls into question the true motives for any stop.

"I would hope there's not a procedure or a winking policy here that the supervisor will make the stop and then one of the DUI officers with a camera will then arrive at the scene," he said. "The stop is a key component to every DUI, because if there's not sufficient probable cause to make the stop then the case against citizen cannot go forward."

Chief Castor explained the dashcams cost more than $6,000 per camera, and she wants them where they are most valuable -- which she says is in the cars of the DUI officers.

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