Charges dropped against sheriff’s deputy in domestic battery case

Nearly four months after he was arrested for domestic battery, the 7th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office has dropped the case against a St. Johns County sheriff’s deputy who resigned his position amid the allegations.

 

In a Nov. 1 disposition notice, the State Attorney’s Office noted that “after reviewing the evidence” in the state’s case against Scott O’Connell it was declining to prosecute.

O’Connell was arrested July 6 after his wife said that he struck her with a closed fist during an argument in their home about the possible end of their marriage.

In a July 28 letter addressed to St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar, O’Connell, who has maintained his innocence, said the he had “come to terms with the fact my service will not be as effective as required by the position of Deputy Sheriff.”

A subsequent Sheriff’s Office internal affairs investigation into the incident found that there was “insufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegations” and produced a finding of “not sustained” that O’Connell had committed a criminal act. The conclusion of the inquiry cited a lack of physical evidence, O’Connell’s “continued denial,” and his wife’s “recanting of her original testimony and refusing to fully cooperate by answering pertinent questions.”

O’Connell’s resignation was the second time the deputy — whose sister’s death remains the largest and longest lasting controversy Shoar’s administration has had to deal with — had severed ties with the Sheriff’s Office.

In March 2012, O’Connell was fired from the agency after what one Sheriff’s Office document calls, an “inappropriate outburst” (he is said to have threatened to blow up the Sheriff’s Office) during a meeting with special prosecutor Brad King who had just informed the family that he was not going to prosecute Deputy Jeremy Banks in the shooting death of O’Connell’s sister, 24-year-old Michelle O’Connell.

The young mother was found dead of a gunshot wound in Banks’ home in September 2010.

The gun that killed her was Banks’ service weapon, and her family has said that she wouldn’t have harmed herself. Banks, who placed the 911 call the night she died saying that she shot herself, maintains his innocence.

The case, which has since been reviewed by multiple medical examiners, remains classified as a suicide, and at least two special prosecutors have looked at it and found there is not enough evidence to bring charges against Banks.

Shoar rehired O’Connell in 2013, saying he believed that the deputy had been misled and manipulated by what Shoar deemed a flawed investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement into the young woman’s death.

 

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