Remember those wild and crazy BSO deputies who were suspected of leaving a West Palm Beach strip club and then shooting at a nearby Walgreens? Well, one of those deputies has turned himself in on charges of "discharging a firearm from a vehicle" -- a second-degree felony.
Deputy Norman Stepelton, a 26-year-old member of the BSO force for about one year, was on paid administrative leave for more than three weeks before he decided to walk into PBSO headquarters on the evening of January 28 and turn himself in for his involvement in the January 5 shooting. He was released the next day without having to pay any bail, according to PBSO arrest records. BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright tells us he's now on unpaid administrative leave.
Police departments usually release mug shots of people arrested for crimes, including drive-by shootings, but PBSO has not done such favors for Stepelton. Here's what they did release:
More information is finally being released about the incident that occurred that night, which was originally reported by anti-police-brutality blog Florida Cop Watch. Here's what we know, according to an affidavit released to the Sun Sentinel:
The deputies didn't just leave a strip club before they allegedly engaged in a drive-by shooting. Rather, they were partying at Roxy's Roof Top Bar, an Irish pub. And after leaving the pub, Stepelton, BSO deputy Christopher Mattingly, and civilian Jeff Behan jumped into a Toyota Prius to cause some ruckus.
Mattingly drove the environmentally friendly vehicle down Okeechobee Boulevard as Stepelton, nestled in the back seat, shot his .40-caliber Glock several times out the window. Behan, 23, sat in the front seat and allegedly fired a few shots too.
It's not clear what they were shooting at, but PBSO deputies, camped in front of a Walgreens on Okeechobee Boulevard and Haverhill Road, heard the shots and said they believed the bullets were for them -- so they bravely pursued the Prius in question.
The PBSO team then tracked down the car, pulled over the suspects, and took them into custody. There's no indication that PBSO deputies fired any shots at the suspects, who all are white, despite believing they were being shot at.
A search of the vehicle revealed an empty magazine in the back seat where Stepelton was sitting.
Stepelton and Mattingly, the two BSO deputies, were obviously not booked that night. But neither was Behan, the only civilian member of the alleged drive-by trio. Behan turned himself in at 10:17 p.m. January 27 for second-degree felony charges of discharging a firearm from a vehicle.
He was released the next morning without having to pay bond.
Stepelton and Behan both face second-degree felonies for their actions. Mattingly remains uncharged and on restricted assignment.
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E-mail him at Ray.Downs@browardpalmbeach.com.
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