Broward County

Coconut Creek police chief out amid Taser turmoil

FloridaBulldog.org

Coconut Creek Police Chief Michael J. Mann
Coconut Creek Police Chief Michael J. Mann FLorida Bulldog

Coconut Creek Police Chief Michael J. Mann has bowed out less than a week after it was revealed that his officers were involved in a fatal Tasering incident that was not divulged to the public.

His exit came after a meeting with City Manager Mary Blasi, who did not respond to requests for comment from FloridaBulldog.org. Mann told the Sun-Sentinel it was a “mutual” decision.

In a farewell email to his troops Wednesday afternoon, Mann stated: “All good things must come to an end. I have made a decision that, after 38 years in law enforcement, I will be retiring. It’s been an awesome ride but, for the good of the department I think it is time for a change in leadership.”

A news release put out later by the city identified Deputy Chief Gregory Lees as the new acting chief.

The death of Calvon “Andre” Reid, 39, was the latest in a series of controversies under Mann’s leadership.

The Tasering occurred about 1 a.m. Feb. 22 in the Andros Isle section of the Wynmoor retirement community off Florida’s Turnpike. But the incident was first revealed five days later by FloridaBulldog.org.

Eyewitnesses John Arendale and his fiancé, Bonnie Eshleman, told a reporter that as many as four police officers fired four Taser shots in two volleys to subdue Reid. And that after the first volley, about five police officers “were around and on top of the man,” who yelled out, “Baby! They are going to kill me” and “I can’t breathe.”

Arendale and Eshleman’s apartment is steps away from where Reid was Tasered and where he went down. Police detectives did not interview them, they said, until the day after their account appeared on the FloridaBulldog.org’s news site.

At a March 5 news conference, Mann read from a prepared statement, noting that Margate Fire Department paramedics first responded to the scene after a 911 call. They found Reid in the parking lot in an “agitated combative and incoherent state” suffering from “numerous cuts on his hands, arms and chest and his clothing was torn and bloodstained,” the chief said.

“Mr. Reid became more aggressive on the scene, which caused safety concerns for the paramedics who were attempting to help him,” the chief said.

The paramedics summoned police. Mann said Reid was so agitated that officers didn’t know if they were dealing with a victim or a suspect. When Reid refused to comply with orders to stop resisting, “Taser use became necessary for the officers’ safety as well as for Mr. Reid’s own safety,” Mann said.

Reid died at Northwest Regional Medical Center two days after the incident.

Asked about the officers’ training and certification in Taser use, Mann said at the time that was “part of the investigation.”

The dead man’s father, Calvin Reid of Simpsonville, S.C., was skeptical about the version of events he heard from police.

“I really don’t buy any of this,” said Reid, a building contractor. “We don’t know the cause of death. We don’t know why he was there...We couldn’t talk to the doctors at the hospital. There are so many unanswered questions.”

The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office said it couldn’t release any autopsy information because police had put a hold on the information.

Mann, a veteran of 21 years with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, was sworn in as Coconut Creek’s chief in October 2009.

In January, FloridaBulldog.org reported how between 2010 and 2012 Coconut Creek police botched 82 criminal cases involving reports of child abuse — sexual and otherwise — and alleged neglect or exploitation of seniors.

As with Reid’s death, the department did not inform the public about what had happened. Police Detective Tammy Alois lost her job but no one was held criminally accountable for the resulting lack of charges and failed prosecutions.

Florida Bulldog is a not-for-profit news organization created to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. Contributions are tax-deductible. www.floridabulldog.org

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