EXCLUSIVE: Internal Affairs report, security video & fired LCSO deputies reveal new details in use-of-force case

Reporter: Céline McArthur
Published: Updated:

In a WINK News exclusive investigation, a former sergeant and deputy of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office break their silence, and explain what they said happened during an arrest that got them and another deputy fired.

Sheriff Carmine Marceno announced their terminations on Facebook in October, writing, “use of force was not properly reported and documented.”

Sergeant Christopher Meyer and Deputy Bradley Davidson were both fired for conduct unbecoming a law enforcement officer, untruthfulness in reports, and for a lack of job knowledge and performance. On top of that, Meyer was also fired for improper use of force.

Marceno claimed a criminal investigation was underway, and did not hold a press conference to answer questions. Investigative Reporter Celine McArthur digs into the arrest that led to the firings and has the video that’s at the center of this investigation

Look at Sheriff Carmine Marceno’s Facebook post and you’ll also see he shut down your ability to discuss or ask questions in the comment section.

I wanted to know more, but LCSO won’t release the case file, since it’s an open criminal investigation. I also asked for an interview with the Sheriff and the agency would not give me an answer—yes or no.

However, I have an exclusive copy of the internal affairs summary report from Former Sergeant Christopher Meyer. He says he gave it to me to back up his story about what happened to 45-year-old Cory Samek during the arrest that led to him being fired.

Exclusive: Copy of the LCSO Internal Affairs summary report for former Sergeant Christopher Meyer

It’s 2 a.m., August 11. LCSO Deputies Alexander Ricci and Brad Davidson are on the scene of a traffic stop near a gas station at Kingston Drive and Palm Beach Boulevard in Tice. Sergeant Meyer drives up to check on them.

“And I hear yelling in the background, like people yelling at each other,” said Meyer. “And I’m like, what the heck is going on?”

Christopher Meyer, former Lee County Sheriff’s Office sergeant interviewed by Céline McArthur

Meyer says Samek, who appears drunk, approaches them, carrying an open can of the alcoholic beverage Twisted Tea.

“… In Deputy Ricci’s face, cursing him out, yelling at him,” said Meyer. “He’s continuing to threaten to fight me.”

“He’s telling us to take our vests off, telling us to take our gun belts off, and wanting to fight us in the middle of the street,” said Brad Davidson, former LCSO deputy.

Brad Davidson, former Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy interviewed by Céline McArthur

Meyer asks Samek to leave.

“We typically try not to arrest people for very minor, a county ordinance if we can help it. So, we’re trying to get rid of this guy. Just telling them to move on,” said Meyer.

Samek won’t go. Meyer goes into the gas station to see if the night manager wanted him removed from the property. The sergeant gets a yes to the trespass, but still can’t convince Samek to leave.

“I go, if you don’t go, you’re going to jail. That’s the last warning. After that, I have to do something. And he continues (to say) I’m not leaving,” said Meyer.

What happens next is captured on the gas station’s surveillance camera. Meyer tells me he went back four days later with his personal cell phone to record the 45 seconds you can see in the story—video he says he provided to LCSO and the State Attorney’s Office.

EXCLUSIVE: Security video from the gas station where former Lee County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Christopher Meyer arrested Cory Samek

“I go to grab his hand. He’s facing me. I’m probably closer than you and I are right now,” said Meyer. “He yanks away. I don’t know if when he turns, he’s going to swing at me or not. I punch him before he can do that.”

Meyer then grabs Samek and takes him to the ground.

“It wasn’t a clean takedown because he’s resisting me. So, I sort of stumbled. I take him down and I fall basically on top of him,” said Meyer.

What you can’t see in Meyer’s zoomed-in recording is Deputies Ricci and Davidson initially standing feet away—watching. Ricci tells LCSO investigators he was, “evaluating where he could be best used to assist.”

Davidson tells investigators he “did not see how it would make a positive effect.”

Céline: “Do you think you did anything wrong?”

Davidson: “I could have acted quicker in helping Sgt. Meyer detain him. I could not have prevented any injury because I never explicitly watched any injury-causing behavior.”

“So, I’m wrestling with this guy. And I’m giving him orders to give me his hands. And I give them multiple strikes,” said Meyer. “Probably three strikes in the torso areas.” He added, “Doesn’t stop. Still trying to throw me off of them. So, I continue. I give him a couple more. Two or three. Stop again. Give him another opportunity. Give me your hands. Nope, gave him a couple more. The other guys in this quick ordeal come up behind and helped me dig his hands out. We put him in the car. That was the last time we saw him or last time that I saw him.”

I found Samek at the gas station.

Investigative reporter Céline McArthur shows Cory Samek the gas station security camera video recorded by former Sergeant Christopher Meyer

He didn’t want to be interviewed on camera, but talked to me about what happened. I showed him the surveillance video. Samek argues it’s proof he didn’t resist, and claims at least another one of Meyer’s punches you see him throw landed on his face.

LCSO Defensive Tactics Coordinator Captain Scott Griffith deemed the level of force used by Meyer in the video “appeared to be in accordance with LCSO policy and procedures;” however, had Davidson and Ricci intervened it, “could have potentially prevented further injuring Mr. Samek.”

Samek also tells me, and LCSO investigators, the use of force didn’t stop there, claiming he was struck by four deputies while handcuffed.

A claim Meyer disputes.

“There was not a strike, not one where he was handcuffed and secured.”

But Meyer and Davidson can’t prove that with the video clip Meyer chose to record on his phone. The IA report shows the arrest happened at 2 a.m., but Samek wasn’t taken from here to the hospital until 3 a.m. There’s an hour that’s unaccounted for, but the gas station video no longer exists, so the potentially incriminating or exonerating evidence is gone for good.

“It’s better than nothing, because if we didn’t have that video, they’d be going off of strictly his word,” said Meyer.

“The amount of time that is unaccounted for is simply us doing paperwork,” said Davidson.

An action Davidson admits he can’t prove. He also challenges—without proof—whether Samek was really hurt during his arrest.

Davidson: “I didn’t recall seeing any medical expert weigh in on the stage of those fractures and in what stage of healing.”
Céline: “You mentioned his ‘level of healing.’ Are you saying it could have happened before you guys had encountered him?”
Brad Davidson, former LCSO deputy

Davidson: “I didn’t recall seeing any medical expert weigh in on the stage of those fractures and in what stage of healing.”
Céline: “You mentioned his ‘level of healing.’ Are you saying it could have happened before you guys had encountered him?”
Davidson: “Several transients in the area that know him, have reported to us on more than one occasion he is often getting in fights.”
Céline: “You saw him for 10 minutes before that happened. You guys kept going back and forth trying to deescalate. Did he look like he had injuries to his face when that was happening?”
Davidson: “No, but I can’t, I don’t have an x-ray machine. I don’t, I can’t see inside his face.”

The IA summary does NOT offer a conclusive explanation for Samek’s injuries which include “fractures to his jaw, and right orbital area.”

“I don’t know. You know, I can’t testify as to what maybe happened in the car. You know, if he was banging his head in the car,” said Meyer.

Despite the findings and unanswered questions in the IA summary, Meyer and Davidson don’t believe they should have been fired.

“It was always projected at the sheriff’s office that if you get into something and you get called into IA or you get called in by a supervisor, and if you tell them the truth, and you tell them this is why, that they will take care of you” Christopher Meyer, former Lee County Sheriff’s Office sergeant

“It was always projected at the sheriff’s office that if you get into something and you get called into IA or you get called in by a supervisor, and if you tell them the truth, and you tell them this is why, that they will take care of you,” said Meyer.

I asked three independent law enforcement experts to review the information and evidence we collected. Dave Benson retired as Director of Law Enforcement Training for the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., Jim Deranne is a retired FBI supervisory special agent, and Jeff Myers is the former Fort Myers Police Deputy Chief. They all believe Marceno’s decision to fire the deputies was reasonable.

“They may not like it, but sometimes the truth hurts, they may not like it, but you can’t behave this way and expect that everything’s going to be just fine,” said Benson. “You have a mug shot that looks like someone’s been pummeled, and there’s no causal, there’s no explanation for how that got there.”

“There are many different techniques to use, they don’t all involve force,” said Derrane. “The guy’s hands are down the whole time. He did not make a threatening gesture, in my view.”

“I questioned why the other officers did not get involved and just kind of stood by.” said Meyers. “It opens up a lot of questions of what actually went on that evening.”

The State Attorney’s Office nolle prossed the case against Samek on November 15, meaning, they dismissed the case.

Coming up next, these experts discuss the biggest mistake made during this use-of-force arrest. They also weigh in on a video I received from a source where Sheriff Carmine Marceno appears to share his view on using force during an arrest.


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