Osceola deputy claims brakes malfunctioned before deadly crash

FHP seeking deputy's phone, computer from Sheriff's Office

By Mike DeForest - Investigative Reporter

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - An Osceola County sheriff's deputy claims the brakes on her patrol car malfunctioned just before it crashed into the rear of a stopped pickup truck last week, audio recordings obtained by News 6 reveal.

The driver of the pickup truck, 34-year-old Robert Johnston, of Clermont, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Shortly after the fatal crash, Deputy Gloria Boccio placed a phone call to a recorded line at the Osceola County Sheriff's Office and asked for the department that maintains the agency's vehicle fleet.

"I need to talk to them. These brakes, there's no f------ brakes on my car just now," Boccio said in the recorded call. "They said they replaced the brakes, but there was no brakes on my car."

The Dodge Charger assigned to Boccio had been taken to the dealership about 10 days earlier because the "brakes failed," a work order obtained by News 6 shows.

According to an invoice from Napleton's South Orlando Dodge dealership, mechanics were told the brakes “fail to be applied” and the "pedal goes to the floor sometimes."

After road-testing the vehicle for about 8 miles, mechanics were unable to duplicate the issue, according to the invoice.

News 6 obtained copies of the patrol vehicle's maintenance reports through a public records request nearly three days before the Osceola County Sheriff's Office shared that same information with Florida Highway Patrol traffic homicide investigators, records show.

Despite Boccio's claim that the brakes malfunctioned prior to the deadly crash, FHP continues to investigate all possible causes of the collision.

News 6 has learned that FHP is asking the Osceola County sheriff to turn over Boccio's cellphone and computer, in part to determine whether she may have been distracted at the time of the crash.

Boccio has been placed on administrative leave as FHP and the Sheriff's Office conduct simultaneous investigations, Sheriff Russell Gibson said.

Days after the crash, the Sheriff's Office took two other Dodge Chargers off the road to undergo brake inspections, News 6 first reported. Those vehicles have not yet been returned to the agency.

Copyright 2018 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.