Tavares police officer on administrative leave for fleeing crash, investigators say

by: Daralene Jones Updated:

TAVARES, Fla. - A Tavares police officer who fled the scene of a crash before running over curbs and prompting several 911 calls is now on administrative leave, Channel 9 investigative reporter Daralene Jones learned.

Officer Steven Moulton was off duty, driving his SUV, when he crashed in April and left the scene, police said.

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Officers within the Tavares Police Department initially cited him for careless driving, which is similiar to getting a speeding ticket, after they consulted with their supervisor. 

Moulton admitted to a supervisor he had been drinking, according to a FDLE report.

“(He) ran off the road and knocked over a water pump. The water's just gushing everywhere and tore up a lot of the stuff,” a person said in a 911 call.

“He hit, like, three or four curbs and he's still driving on a flat tire,” another caller told 911.

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A corporal told agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that Moulton called him just after the crash and said he wasn’t going to cooperate.

"(Moulton) did not want to meet and stated he would not answer the door if anyone came over,” the corporal said to agents.

During a second call, Moulton changed his story to say that he had not been driving the vehicle, the corporal told agents.
    
“He (the corporal) received a call from Officer Moulton, who indicated he was involved in a crash. He had been drinking. His car would not run. He was getting it towed. How does your department end up investigating this as one that is careless driving and not a potential DUI or leaving the scene of a crash>” Daralene Jones asked Lt. Clevett Jones, with the Tavares Police Department.

“The officer used their discretion. That officer was afforded every opportunity we give every person in the city. The officer has their discretion,” Lt. Jones said.

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9 Investigates learned there was no department review of how the case was handled. 

Another concerned officer filed a complaint that sparked the FDLE investigation to determine if official misconduct occurred. 

Lt. Jones wouldn't conducted that internal department review because he oversees professional standards.

“Did you feel like there should've been more investigating done here considering you have an officer who knows the law, leaving the scene of a crash, could've been potentially drinking,” Daralene Jones asked.

“(It) wasn't my decision to make. The chief did not authorize any further investigation,” Lt. Jones told Eyewitness News.

9 Investigates was told the Tavares police chief was not in Tuesday to answer our questions.

A spokesperson for the Lake County State Attorney’s Office said Moulton’s inconsistent statements do not meet the legal requirements for perjury or other charges. The spokesperson said the FDLE did not find any evidence showing that other officers committed illegal acts. 

The Tavares police Chief Stoney Lubins told Daralene Jones Wednesday after story aired that he will review the officer's accident.

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