Termination upheld for Lake Mary officer accused of tampering with evidence



LAKE MARY, Fla. - A three-member panel voted Thursday to uphold the termination of a Lake Mary officer accused of deleting a report relating to allegations that he used unlawful force.

Officer Christopher Jason Dye, 39, was arrested on two counts of an offense relating to intellectual property and one count of witness tampering.

Police Chief Steve Bracknell stood by his decision to fire Dye, saying Dye's intent was to "cover it up."

Dye admits to responding to a call at a bar and having a physical confrontation with bar owner Sean DeSilva on Halloween night of 2011.

Dye also admitted to arresting DeSilva and then later deleting the first of two reports on the arrest, the report that happened to detail the confrontation.

"There was no intent to cover anything, no intent to hide anything, no malicious behavior on my behalf," said Dye.

The report was never actually deleted and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement dropped its investigation, but the simple act of hitting the delete key is what the three member panel ultimately decided led to a justified dismissal of the officer.

The issue at the heart of the case was the use of excessive force by Dye on the bar owner, but the panel did not find evidence to support the claim.

All three panel members found that the city's allegation of "untruthfulness during investigation" by Dye was not sustained, saying the city did not have evidence Dye lied to investigators.

But in the end it wasn't enough, and the panel voted to uphold Dye's termination.

The FDLE said the Lake Mary Police Department asked it to look into allegations that the officer had accessed a Seminole County sheriff's computer database.

"He gained access to the database two times and deleted supplemental statements made by other officers," said Susie Murphy, an FDLE spokeswoman.

According to investigators, an audit of the database system determined that Dye had accessed the system and deleted the report.

"It's very disconcerting. Your character is the most important thing, and to go in and do this blows it away," Murphy said.

Dye had been working for the Lake Mary Police Department for more than a decade.

The city manager is expected to make her decision by next Friday. Dye can still sue the city in civil court, although he did not say if that is his plan.