OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office released an internal affairs report on Friday detailing the conduct of eight deputies that ultimately led to seven of them being suspended while the eighth was fired for an unrelated matter.
The investigation surrounds comments made by the eight deputies on an internal messaging service used by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, according to the report.
The investigation began on Sept. 30, 2020 when an internal affairs investigator was reviewing internal instant messages for an unrelated case and discovered the inappropriate messages between the eight deputies, according to the report.
The report names the deputies who were under investigation as Javier Arroyo, Damian Rodriguez, David Ruiz-Beltran, Michael Dijulio, Cristian Torres, Rhandall Leger-Diaz, Michael Sherotski and Miguel Irizarry. Each participated in conversations that included discussions about “the attractiveness of female citizens as well as female deputies, sexually suggestive language, some racially insensitive statements, comments regarding use of force on subjects, and other offensive comments,” the report reads.
One message read, “stop sending nudes bro,” several referenced sexual acts, often using slang terms, another read, “Blonde hair, tight dress... u won’t miss her,” and, “This kid is really (upsetting me)... I hope he resists,” according to the report.
Seven of the eight deputies were later interviewed by internal affairs investigators about their conduct. Dijulio was not because, according to the report, he had already been fired on Feb. 8, 2021 due to an unrelated internal affairs investigation. Details of that investigation were not provided in this report.
Records show the messages the deputies were questioned about contained complaints about being charged full price at restaurants.
“Yeah I normally just tip big when they DRT but they hit me with a $30 bill so tip big I did not, Sherotski reportedly wrote.
When questioned about that message, Sherotski explained that “DRT” means “doing the right thing.” According to the report, he further explained that “doing the right thing” entailed giving a discount to uniformed officers. Records show Sherotski later insisted he always tips regardless of whether he is charged full price and that he does not expect businesses to give him discounts.
The report also said some of the inappropriate comments contained references to anime (Japanese animation).
Records show Leger-Diaz wrote in the internal messaging system, “I use my sexy no jutsu to squash calls.”
According to the report, Leger-Diaz was asked to explain what this meant.
“Are you familiar with the cartoon ‘Naruto?’ It’s like a ninja show and they use super powers and all that. Like Arroyo, Javier said, ‘I use my sharingan to dodge reports.’ It’s just techniques, that’s just one of the techniques in the show where someone can transform to like, ah, someone else. Like a beautiful person,” the deputy said.
He further explained that “squash calls” meant “getting out of a report.”
As each deputy was interviewed, according to the report, they were read a portion of the agency’s computer policy:
“(B) Creating, displaying, viewing, retrieving, or transmitting threatening, racist, sexist, sexually explicit, or suggestive, obscene or harassing language, or materials, except when done with command level approval for law enforcement purposes such as covert investigatory operations. (H) Using the email and instant message systems to create offensive or disruptive messages. Any message containing sexual content, racial slurs, gender specific comments, or any other comment that offensively addresses someone‘s age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, national origin, or disability are considered offensive and subjects the member to progressive discipline. "Osceola County Sheriff's Office: Agency Computers Policy 218.0(4)(A)(1)(B) and (H)
The deputies were also read a portion of the sheriff’s office’s standards of conduct policy:
“Members shall conduct themselves at all times, both on and off duty, in such manner as to reflect most favorably on the Sheriff’s Office. Conduct unbecoming shall include that which brings the Sheriff’s Office into disrepute or reflects discredit upon the members of the Sheriff’s Office, or that which impairs the operation or efficiency of the Sheriff’s Office or members. "Osceola County Sheriff's Office: Standards of Conduct Policy 341.0( 4)(A)(7) Unbecoming Conduct
Each deputy was asked whether they violated those policies with their use of the internal messaging system and, according to the report, each of the seven deputies who were interviewed acknowledged that their behavior violated those policies.
Records show each of the seven remaining deputies were hit with an administrative charge of unbecoming conduct and given a 24-hour suspension.
After the suspensions were originally announced in April, Sheriff Marcos Lopez released a statement about the behavior.
“During the prior administration, several of my deputies made inappropriate, insensitive, and offensive remarks to each other using agency issued equipment. My understanding is they are all friends and the comments were intended to be funny. I am not laughing,” Lopez said in the statement.
He added, “There is no excuse for this type of language in my office. As a result, they were suspended without pay. They will also all be researching and executing training various sensitivity programs for their fellow deputies. Everyone in my Office will learn from this incident.”
You can read the full report released by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office below: