Polk County deputy allegedly violates woman
Jose Garcia, 26, accused of inappropriate behavior
A young mother spoke one-on-one with Local 6 about the Polk County deputy who she said abused his power and asked her to expose herself to avoid going to jail.
Investigators said Deputy Julio Jose Garcia, 26, abused his job and violated women he put in handcuffs. Garcia was charged with unlawful compensation/reward for official behavior, display of a firearm during a felony offense and falsifying an official record.
Garcia was arrested on Wednesday after reported accusations of displaying abusive behavior toward women prompted an undercover surveillance, said a sheriff's department release.
"I was in the backseat and he was asking me questions, kind of like hitting on me," Lindsay Meadows said.
Meadows said she was so scared, she did exactly what he asked -- including exposing her body everywhere he pointed his flashlight.
"He said, 'I'll get you out of this situation if you show me,'" said Meadows.
Garcia arrested Meadows last October and took her to the Bartow Regional Medical Center, where she said he promised to let her go if he saw what he wanted. But even after exposing herself, the young mother went to jail, and that's where she realized she probably was not the only victim.
"It's scary. He's supposed to help me. He's supposed to protect me, and he was just trying to go home with me," Meadows said. "He did it to me and I'm sure he's doing it to other people."
In fact, investigators believe when Garcia arrested another woman last June, he took her to an abandoned building and fondled her. The investigative report said she thought after "Garcia placed his hands down her pants and touched her... that she was going to be released by him in exchange for not reporting his actions."
That woman did not report the inappropriate behavior, but Meadows did.
"I'm glad that he is off the streets because he's not doing that to any other girl," said Meadows.
"We will not tolerate this kind of outrageous conduct by someone sworn to uphold the law and protect our citizens," said Sheriff Grady Judd in a release. "When we learned of the first allegation, we immediately initiated an investigation, sought other possible victims, and then conducted undercover surveillance. Garcia is not worthy to wear the sheriff's office uniform and he never will again."
PCSO conducted undercover surveillance on Garcia Jan. 5-9 and found Garcia left his patrol area numerous times without approval, and that he falsified official patrol records, resulting in his suspension, according to the report.
Garcia, who has been with PCSO since 2011, was suspended on Friday pending termination procedures, and was arrested on Wednesday.
Garcia was booked into the Polk County Jail.