Post-rodeo rage led to Brevard deputy's termination, internal review finds

Jacksonville hotel guest shot Jason Robert in self-defense, authorities say

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A Brevard County Sheriff's Office deputy was fired April 26, several months after he was shot at a Jacksonville hotel by another guest who investigators determined was defending himself from the former deputy's intoxicated rage, an internal review shows.

Jason Roberts was in Jacksonville on Feb. 17, attending the PBR Rodeo with his fiancee when local authorities say he was shot multiple times at the Lexington Hotel by another guest in self-defense.

The victim said that, after a full night of drinking, Roberts had become angered when he walked into his hotel room and his fiancee was in the bathroom with the door shut. Roberts went from "having a good time to crazy, jealous psycho, kicking the door down," according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report.

The victim said he and Roberts' fiancee tried to calm Roberts down but the deputy turned and punched the victim in the face. At one point, Roberts had pinned his fiancee to the ground, the victim told deputies. Roberts fiancee later denied Roberts ever touched her and said she was not in the room when the shooting occurred, according to the report.

"The victim then armed himself with a handgun and shot Roberts in self-defense to stop the alleged unprovoked attack," according to the report.

According to the Sheriff's Office internal review obtained by News 6, all evidence supported the victim's version of events.

Roberts' boot print was found on the broken bathroom door and the victim had visible injuries to his face, including a missing tooth. Security cameras around the hotel also corroborated the events leading up to the shooting, according to the Sheriff's Office report.

Due to his condition, Jacksonville authorities were unable to interview Roberts until Feb. 22. Roberts said they had been drinking and he was only able to recall minor details about the confrontation he'd had with the other man but denied that the drinking had affected his memory.

A Jacksonville sheriff's detective determined Roberts could have faced a battery charge, according to the internal review, but the state attorney's office declined to file charges against Roberts.

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office internal review found Roberts violated his professional responsibilities, failed to obey instruction by his superior officer, did not comply with local laws and regulations and was intoxicated in public view while off duty.

"The criminal investigation documented that Roberts was highly intoxicated during the battery and he did not provide a full and complete statement to detectives conducting the criminal investigation," according to the Sheriff's Office findings.

Roberts attempted to turn in his resignation letter Thursday ahead of his scheduled interview regarding the administrative investigation, emails included in the review show.

"Roberts willfully and deliberately refused to comply with the lawful orders that were given to him, refusing to attend and provide a compelled statement for his scheduled Subject Officer interview," the agent in charge of the review wrote in the report.

The Sheriff's Office attempted to deliver Roberts a copy of the internal review Friday, along with notice of a pre-termination hearing, however, "although someone was clearly in your house, no one would come to the door," Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey wrote in the final action letter to Roberts on Monday.

History of previous policy violations

Roberts' employee history with the sheriff’s office shows a pattern of violating department policy dating back to 2012, which never resulted in suspension or paid-leave, according to records obtained by News 6.

Roberts was involved in another off-duty incident in September 2018 during which he was intoxicated and “engaged in a pattern of unprofessional behavior” toward first responders and hospital staff trying to help him, according to a closed administrative investigation.

In November 2018, Roberts failed to appear for a traffic court hearing, which resulted in the case being dismissed, an employee counseling report shows. Although the report says it was his first time missing traffic court, the supervisor noted Roberts previously received "written counseling" for missing court depositions.

Roberts and three other BCSO deputies were disciplined as the result of a Sept. 2, 2018 vehicle pursuit during which some of the deputies traveled at triple the speed limit during a chase and failed to turn on patrol car lights.

In May, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Communication Center attempted to text Roberts to ask him to respond to a shooting scene in Canaveral Groves where heroin trafficking and more than $5,000 were found, but staff were unable to reach him for three hours, another counseling report shows.

“Agent Roberts as well as all members of the Special Investigation Unit are expected to return on call texts/calls in a timely manner,” according to the remarks.

In all of the reviewed policy violations by the department, Roberts received “written counseling” or letters of reprimand.

“Any future incidents will result in continued progressive discipline,” each report said.

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