Racing to the scene, fellow cops found Dodson lying face-down on the garage floor, covered in blood. More than 100 tiny cuts criss-cossed his entire body — calves, chest, arms, head. The sergeant's Glock lay near him on the floor, along with a trail of blood, a box cutter, an Xacto razor blade, and a hammer.

Dodson said that he'd gone outside to smoke a Marlboro but that when he opened the garage door, two guys in ski masks ran in. One of the men punched him, then started hitting him in the head with a hammer, he said. Dodson fell, and the second attacker started slicing him with a box cutter. Trying to ward off blows, Dodson pulled out his Glock and informed the men he was a cop. He fired 15 or 16 rounds and was sure he wounded the suspects before they ran away.

But his story didn't add up. Crime-scene investigators didn't find any footprints in the grass from suspects running. No hospitals had reported men with unexplained bullet wounds showing up in their emergency rooms. And the medical examiner said Dodson's wounds appeared to be self-inflicted.

When Palm Beach Gardens detectives — called in because the crime happened in their district — interviewed Dodson in the emergency room at St. Mary's Hospital that morning, he was still behaving strangely. "Oh, you're good. You're trying to lock me into a story," he told one officer who questioned him.

Dodson returned to his mother's house around 6:30 a.m., still acting drunk and belligerent. He refused to let detectives search the house without a warrant. Twice, he tried to push past the cops and had to be restrained.

Gardens detectives spent the next month investigating the alleged attack. They reviewed surveillance video from the home­owners' association, collected DNA samples from the scene, and interviewed a possible suspect. But they didn't find any evidence to support Dodson's story. Meanwhile, the medical examiner recommended that the sergeant be tested for drugs and alcohol.

The unsettling image of a drunk, trigger-happy cop mutilating himself in his garage signified the epic chaos inside the Riviera Beach Police Department.


December 17, 2009, was D-day for Riviera. The Palm Beach Sheriff's Office cuffed three cops for three unrelated crimes. Toombs was accused of revealing confidential criminal information and official misconduct. Schneider was arrested and charged with a whopping 96 counts of forgery and official misconduct for having signed Galligan's signature to documents. Dodson was charged with using a firearm while under the influence, shooting into a building, disorderly intoxication, and falsely reporting a crime.

In August 2010, Schneider was arrested a second time, slapped with 56 additional charges of forgery and official misconduct. The charges focused on cases in which Schneider had allegedly signed Galligan's name on property receipts, which catalog evidence that is put into storage. She was now facing an incredible 760 years in prison.

State Attorney Michael McAuliffe was clearly trying to send a message: The Riviera Beach Police Department was his next target in Corruption County.

But without any high-ranking officials indicted, it seemed a hollow crusade. Harris retained his post as assistant chief. Galligan retired and escaped criminal charges. Schneider was the only one facing a lifetime in prison.

McAuliffe's spokesperson said he would not comment for this story, but sources familiar with the department have speculated that prosecutors hoped Schneider, if pressured, would spill dirt on Galligan, who would in turn roll on Assistant Chief Harris. If that happened, the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office could finally claim a victory against corruption in Riviera. But to this day, no such situation has materialized.

And Harris himself dismissed that notion, noting that the FBI and FDLE had never found any evidence of wrongdoing, so why would McAuliffe think he could find some? "He would have to have a hell of an ego," Harris said.

Throughout it, Riviera Police Chief Williams remained silent on the scandal. His spokesperson said he would not comment for this article.

Schneider, Dodson, and Toombs pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and remained on "restricted duty," confined to desk jobs while the department conducted internal-affairs investigations. They are all still collecting their paychecks.

Meanwhile, two of the Musketeers fled the department. Vance transferred to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office; Borrows now works for Jupiter's police force. In his resignation letter, Vance took a parting shot at Harris and the old guard.

"I am leaving as a direct result of a concerted campaign of harassment directed at me inside the police department," he wrote. "While very thinly-veiled threats to do me bodily harm previously had been made by a high-ranking official in the police department, most recently my life was threatened by a supervisor with the means to accomplish his threat."


In January 2011, Toombs' case was the first of the three to go to trial. (Dodson's trial is scheduled for April 4; Schneider doesn't have a trial date yet.) An uncomfortable parade of cops took the stand to testify. It was an awkward scene. Cops and prosecutors usually work together to get the bad guys; now they were adversaries.

Schneider and Dodson watched the proceedings from the courtroom benches. The prevailing theory was that if the prosecutors lost the case against Toombs, the remaining two cops would face smoother sailing.

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5 comments
pissedoff
pissedoff

Remember... It's our money paying for these dirtbags, that do nothing for justice. Not government money, not yada yada.... OUR money pay for these lazy dirtbags that do nothing. Don't tell me they don't know who set that dog on fire... Actually, they probably don't, because they obviously didn't even check it out. They are too interested in their 'flag day', 'president's day' off.

pissedoff
pissedoff

This area is why people call Florida... FloriDUH. You interview a woman that says she hears a "whoosh" (how theatrical of you) when a dog is set on fire.... but you find nothing, and she saw nothing. BS! Whoever did that is on their way to killing people. Not that that would be less of a crime. You want to post the sensationalism...but do nothing to find the guilt. The entire area is nothing but government sucking on taxpayers hard earned money. Fix it. Solve it. Do what you're paid to do.

Guest
Guest

"Despite Decades of Corruption Allegations, Is the Riviera Beach Police Department Clean?"

Does New Times have monkeys writing the headlines these days?

Longtimecop
Longtimecop

Been there and done that, I've seen this movie play out before in little fiefdoms in other cities. You have mayors and city commissioners who are ill educated and quite frankly, Joe Shit-The Ragman, now they they get elected by even more of uneducated bunch of retards, that now have a "hook" in city hall. Now these Joe Shit the Ragmen and women believe they are great politicians, great contributors to the republic, even though they are appliance salesmen! Now, they get chummy with a few cops, mostly those that can't or don't have the education, skill or intelligence to do the job, but they have charisma, the ability to make these politicos "believe " they have special powers, These cops become the politico's eyes and ears of an agency, reporting on all goings on, down to minutia, the most powerful cop in a police department, ain't the chief, it is some road cop, not even a supervisor who pisses in every one's ear and tells 'em it's raining. The ONLY way that this city can be cleaned up is via a contract with PBSO. What will happen is the core group of dirtbags will be banished out of the city, a commander, educated and a professional law enforcement officer, who is loyal to PBSO will take over and do the right things, the crap will be weeded out and those who have sat on their ass' for years will now be held accountable. I know, I have lived it and observed it first hand. It works and it takes control of the police department out of the hands of the nitwit politicians and places it in the hands of the sheriff.

Guest2
Guest2

Apparently they have monkeys reading and commenting.

 
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