City leaders sound off on mishandled Nate Allen investigation

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FILE: Nate Allen

FORT MYERS, Fla. – City leaders are chiming in on the newly released details into the botched arrest of NFL player Nate Allen.

A detective and sergeant are suspended from the Fort Myers Police Department, after an Internal Affairs investigation found they made major mistakes when detaining Allen in February.

Allen was falsely accused of indecent exposure.

Chief Doug Baker calls this whole situation, the perfect storm.

After a five-month internal investigation, WINK News learned two officers were suspended. One was given a written reprimand, and another resigned during the investigation.

Chief Baker tells WINK, his officers failed to follow the law while investigating Nate Allen.

FMPD officers first stopped Allen on U.S. 41 on February 16 around 5 p.m. Allen was detained, accused of exposing himself to a 16-year-old girl.

But the statute officers detained him on, didn’t fit the crime.

“The investigation showed they missed it. It’s as simple as that. They misinterpreted the statute. They read it as, 16 and under,” said Baker.

Fort Myers City Councilman Johnny Streets, who served as a Fort Myers police officer for 26 years, tells WINK News he hopes this can be used as a learning experience.

“I think we need to make sure our training is up to date. Make sure that these officers know what their jobs are…make sure that they know what the laws are,” said Streets.

Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson told WINK News Thursday that another apology to Allen should be forthcoming, and that he hopes it will be well received.

Officers on scene detained Allen for alleged lewd and lascivious behavior, in front of someone under 16, a felony.

But the victim in this case was 16 years old, which changes the statute. As a misdemeanor, this was not an offense you can be arrested for.

This means Allen could have been released right away. The internal investigation shows several officers missed this fact, including a detective.

Chief Baker says, it’s wasn’t intentional.

“Number one, the officers and detectives are working through this. We have a 16-year-old victim. The victim has positively ID’d Mr. Allen as the suspect, it’s flat out oversight,” said Baker.

Allen was later cleared.

A timeline shows the statute mistake was discovered at 7:51, several hours after Allen was first detained. Allen wasn’t released until 10 p.m. that night.

“At that point, we are still investigating a crime, still believe he is the suspect. Lots of other moving parts of this, of what we are actually doing.”

Baker said his officers have admitted to messing up.

“We are empathetic to Mr. Allen and we apologized to any embarrassment to him or his family. We aren’t beyond that, the officers are very remorseful,” said Baker.

The sergeant and detective were suspended for not properly investigating, while one officer was reprimanded for not checking on Nate Allen in his cell, as required by policy.

Another resigned during the investigation. Allen and his attorney are holding a press conference at at 10 a.m. Friday.

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