A Brevard County jail deputy will be reprimanded for bringing Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea to work Saturday, items associated with the then-ongoing George Zimmerman trial and items that some fellow employees found offensive, sheriff’s officials said.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey called Chris Wood’s actions “insensitive and inappropriate,” and said Wood explained he was trying to convey a “need for professionalism amongst coworkers during the emotional and lengthy trial.
"He made a bad decision to try and do something and then chose bad tools to try and do it with," said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey. "It was very insensitive to not only the people in the squad but insensitive to what was going on in the community and in society at that point."
The incident occurred Saturday morning, Local 6 confirmed. Later the same day, a jury returned a not guilty verdict on a charge of murder against Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford last year. Martin was carrying Skittles and a drink at the time of his death.
Ivey said there was no indication Wood’s actions or statements were racially motivated. The sheriff said Wood put the items on display and meant to spread a message about the need to separate personal and professional opinions, but delivered the message poorly in a “split second.”
"People were from what I'm being told were kind of scratching their head wondering what his exact message was trying to be," Ivey said. "I do believe he had good intentions, but chose a bad message delivery to do it."
The sheriff said Wood accepted full responsibility for his actions and said it was not Wood’s intention to offend anyone. The deputy apologized for the “unclear and potentially divisive message,” Ivey said in a statement, and also apologized to his coworkers Wednesday morning.
Wood has been with the agency about 10 years and is part of the K-9 team. He could not be reached for comment.
Ivey, who learned of the incident Sunday night, said an internal affairs investigation was launched after an anonymous caller reported the incident. He said he reached out to community leaders after learning what happened to assure them he was handling the situation immediately.
“As part of the overall reprimand, I am requiring Deputy Wood to attend training in communications (and) interpersonal and sensitivity skills,” the sheriff said.