KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A now-former Kissimmee police officer is accused of lying about being carjacked, after investigators believe he actually drove drunk into a retention pond.
9 Investigates learned instead of going to jail, off-duty officer George Hazelton was given a ride home.
Only Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray obtained the body camera videos of the morning it happened, and she questioned the Kissimmee police chief about the incident. She also asked the three other agencies who responded to the call about why none of them pursued charges against Hazelton for obstruction, misuse of 911 or driving under the influence.
Hazelton resigned, but could lose his certification. The Kissimmee Police Department sent the results of his internal affairs investigation, which found him to be untruthful, to Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, which has the power to revoke an officer’s law enforcement certification.
On an early morning in November 2020, Orlando Police, Belle Isle Police and Orange County deputies responded to a 7-Eleven on Orange Blossom Trail after Hazelton called 911 to claim he was carjacked.
“There was like, four dudes who pulled me the (expletive) out,” Hazelton said on body camera.
According to an internal affairs investigation, Hazelton said he was going to “drive home and decided against it because he believed he consumed too much alcohol.” He claims he parked in Belle Isle, where he was attacked.
The location where he ultimately called 911 was more than six miles away.
“How’d you get here from there?” an officer asked Hazelton.“Walking,” he replied.
While he continued to tell his story, the internal investigation shows that a deputy spotted a tow truck transporting Hazelton’s truck from an accident scene in the Orlando Police jurisdiction.
A witness saw the truck drive off the road into a retention pond near the I-4 on-ramp at John Young Parkway. Hazelton’s clothes were wet up to his knees, his shirt was ripped, and according to the internal investigation, he smelled of alcohol.
He also still had his keys, ruling out the story that he was carjacked.
“I got away from them, I still have my (expletive) keys, I don’t know how they got my (expletive), I don’t know where my (expletive) truck is at, OK?” Hazelton said to investigators.
“Beyond his immediate conduct not being appropriate; the lives he put in jeopardy beyond his own; the fact that he involved and made that serious allegation and it covered three jurisdictions, I’m extremely disappointed,” Chief Jeff O’Dell said of his former officer, who worked for the agency for around nine years.
Hazelton was immediately put on leave, but none of the agencies that responded pursued any charges against him. Another Kissimmee officer was called to the 7-Eleven to give Hazelton a ride home.
“If that were to have happened in your jurisdiction, would that person have gotten a ride home?” Ray asked Chief Jeff O’Dell.
“It depends on a lot of factors,” O’Dell said. “The 911 call, the fact that you involved all those other agencies, certainly makes the situation worse.”
O’Dell’s agency was not involved in the criminal investigation, meaning it was within protocol for one of his fellow officers to take Hazelton home.
9 Investigates asked the responding agencies why no charges were filed. Belle Isle Police ruled that since nothing occurred in its jurisdiction, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office was primarily on the case.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office told 9 Investigates that people often lie to law enforcement, and are very rarely arrested for that.
Orlando Police could not place Hazelton behind the wheel since he was located away from the crash scene, so no charges were pursued against him.