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Orange County SWAT team members bullied bar patron, drank & drove agency vehicles

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — What was supposed to be a night to honor a fallen deputy—turned into a night of drinking, driving agency vehicles, and allegations of bullying by some members of the Orange County SWAT team. Some deputies were on-duty.

The only reason we know of the incident is because a bar patron went public with his story, and the Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation.

The surveillance video obtained by 9 Investigates shows deputies elbowing and pushing radio host Shawn Wasson.

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According to Wasson, investigators, and even deputies who were there that night, this argument started when Wasson would not move from his chair—when the SWAT team corporal asked.

“He told me to my face. He was like we are cops, and we’re going to go nuts tonight,” Wasson said.

According to the internal report, the deputy that first approached Wasson was Corporal Kristopher Lott.

Lott and roughly 20 other deputies were at the bar remembering Deputy Michael Milmerstadt, who died days earlier after suffering a brain injury during off-duty training at a gym.

Lott asked Wasson to move. He even offered him a drink, the report says.

But Wasson said no.

“I said, there’s nowhere for us to move. This is the only spot,” Wasson said.

Wasson says for the next 30 minutes—Lott and others in Orange County SWAT Team—bullied him and his girlfriend.

Surveillance video shows after Wasson refused to move, deputies Sheldon Moore and Joshua Mount walking to the bar.

You can see Mount confronting Wasson and Moore leaning between them.

The report says Mount elbowed Wasson. Moore also made contact with Wasson.

Eight minutes later, Mount returned to the bar next to Wasson—this time “continuously bumping against the back of Wasson’s chair as Deputy Moore laughed.”

“And they were shoving us around, they tried to knock me off my chair. They were just kind of making it clear that when a SWAT officer tells you to do something, you damn sure better do that thing,” Wasson said.

The report details another deputy, Sergeant Ryan Donovan “confronted” Wasson about not moving.

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According to the report, the assistant commander of the Orange County SWAT team, Lieutenant Christopher Gunn, confronted Wasson and summoned more deputies over.

Video shows roughly a dozen deputies crowding around Wasson at the bar.

“They were insulting me. they were saying vulgar things. They wanted to do whatever they could to make me feel uncomfortable, so that I would leave,” Wasson said.

What’s more concerning is the investigation found 9 Orange County deputies drank and then drove their agency vehicles home that night. Two of them were on duty.

  • Corporal Michael Chiu
  • Corporal Samuel Wahnish
  • Corporal Robert McCarty
  • Master Deputy Jovani Santos-Hernandez
  • Deputy Chase Myrold
  • Deputy
  • Lt. Christopher Gunn
  • Deputy Gregory Howell
  • Deputy Christopher Belanger

It found five deputies displayed “unbecoming conduct.”

  • Deputy Joshua Mount
  • Corporal Kristopher Lott
  • Lt. Christopher Gunn
  • Sgt. Ryan Donovan
  • Deputy Sheldon Moore

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The report says Wasson declined to press charges.

An early draft of the internal report suggested Joshua Mount may have committed two acts of battery.

“Sworn testimony from the victim, eyewitnesses and surveillance video footage revealed Deputy Mount committed two separate acts of battery,” the draft report stated.

However, the final draft does not include this.

9 Investigates asked Orange County Sheriff’s Office why it was not in the final report.

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The Sheriff’s Office said its legal team reviews all professional standards cases in which a sustained finding could result in a deputy’s termination. “Legal reviewed the draft report, and the legal elements for battery were not present. The report was revised,” a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said.

OCSO told 9Investigates it’s common for draft reports to be edited and revised before they are finalized.

All deputies who were under this internal investigation are still employed by the Sheriff’s Office, according to the agency. The deputies who were found in violation of agency policy received discipline ranging from 120 to 260 hours of unpaid time off.

The Sheriff’s Office declined to interview or make any statements about the SWAT Team’s behavior.

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