Man accused of killing Orange County officer in crash bonds out of jail

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Clarification: The initial arrest report recommended charges for DUI manslaughter. The state attorney charged just vehicular manslaughter.

A man accused of killing an Orange County officer in a crash has bonded out of jail.


Neil Demetree, 57, is facing felony charges after investigators say he swerved into a construction zone in December, crashing into Orange County Sheriff’s Field Officer David Grassi.

Only Channel 9 was there on Friday when he bonded out and confronted him about the accusations.

Demetree ran away from Channel 9′s cameras after posting bond nine months after investigators said he crashed into and killed Grassi.

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Demetree was driving home from a gentleman’s club around 2 a.m. on Dec. 11 and speeding on I-4 when he swerved and crashed into Grassi’s car.

Grassi was stationed there to stop traffic from passing into that lane while road crews worked.

After the crash, investigators asked Demetree if he fell asleep behind the wheel.

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The arrest affidavit said he denied doing so. When asked if he had any recollection of driving into the lane, Demetree said he “faded into the lane, I put on my breaks, and I tried to go around him,” according to the affidavit.

Demetree said he was not drunk at the time of the arrest. He admitted to having three beers at the nightclub.

When asked how the crash happened, Demetree replied, “It shouldn’t have happened, but it did.”

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Demetree said he was going about 60-65 mph; forensics showed he was actually going about 87 mph right before the crash.

The speed limit on I-4 is 50 mph.

Sheriff John Mina spoke about Grassi last month, saying it was “such a blessing” having him on the team.

“He saved the lives of many road construction workers out there that night,” Mina said.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.