Chief: Clermont police officer arrested on perjury charges

Updated:

CLERMONT, Fla. - Following a months-long investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a Clermont police officer was arrested Wednesday on five counts of perjury by false written declaration.

Officer Cecil Garrett is accused of being "untruthful in his reports, affidavits, sworn testimony and/or in his documentation of citizen encounters and interactions while on duty," Clermont police Chief Charles Broadway said Thursday during a news conference.

Garrett was placed on paid administrative leave on March 10 after the department received multiple complaints about the officer, Broadway said.

Garrett turned himself in to authorities Wednesday and has been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of case against him, Broadway said.


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"As of March 9 of this year, the State Attorney's Office ceased using Cecil Garrett as a witness in the prosecution of any criminal case," Broadway said during Thursday's news conference.

Garrett was hired by the department in December 2005.

"This arrest stems from a series of isolated incidents that were dealt with swiftly and expeditiously," Broadway said. "It is in no way reflective of the hard-working men and women of the Clermont Police Department and their commitment to serving the public with integrity and professionalism."

Wednesday's arrest was not the first time Garrett was accused of putting false information in a police report.

In 2011, he was fired from the Clermont Police Department on allegations that he lied and trumped up charges against a driver during a traffic stop.

An arbitrator ruled that he didn't do anything wrong, and Garrett was rehired more than a year later.

Since then, he has mostly worked as a patrol officer.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted a 5-month-long investigation that found that Garrett arrested 73 people for driving on a suspended or revoked license, Broadway said.

Agents said that they found inconsistencies with 16 cases. In 11 cases, they said Garrett wrote in reports that he searched the status of suspects' driver's licenses before stopping them, but he actually searched the database after pulling them over.

In five other cases, it was the opposite. Investigators said that Garrett wrote in reports that he observed suspects doing something wrong, but after stopping them, he found out that they had a problem with their license.

In reality, agents said that he had searched suspect's licenses as much as an hour and 25 minutes before stopping them.

A victim's story

John Emens’ run-in with Garrett landed him in jail four years ago.

“I was just driving through town. Just came back from the store and he pulled me over,” he said.

Emens pleaded no contest to driving with a suspended license, served four days in jail and had to pay a fine.

His case is one of the initial 16 from 2011-2016 in which investigators said Garrett lied.

In this instance, Garrett wrote on the affidavit that he checked Emens tag through the driver and vehicle identification database, or DAVID, to view the owner’s picture to make sure it matches the current driver. 

Watch: Interview with John Emans