OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — An Osceola County deputy fired for going 130 mph when there was no emergency is back on the force.
In 2019, then-Sheriff Russ Gibson said deputy Gabe Garcia was a danger to the community and himself.
The internal investigation showed that a lieutenant was parked along 13th Street when he saw the unmarked Dodge Charger speed by. Curious about what the emergency was, he inquired and found there wasn’t one.
When Garcia was questioned, he said he was new to the SWAT team and said he didn’t want to be late to a training call and misunderstood how he was supposed to respond.
He said he didn’t see the speedometer, but if he did, he would have slowed down, adding that, “this was a mistake, I’m not perfect” and promising that it wouldn’t happen again.
Current Sheriff Marcos Lopez seems to agree, offering Garcia a second chance.
“I looked at it, I don’t think it was right and I don’t think it was fair,” Lopez said. “If an average person speeds and gets a ticket, why can’t a deputy? Am I saying it’s OK? No, but looking at all the circumstances he was actually responding to a SWAT training call out.”
Lopez said he also factored in that a career services board found the punishment was too harsh and overturned Gibson’s decision because it was argued that other deputies didn’t lose their jobs for speeding.
Lopez said there is a system in place now that alerts supervisors if a deputy is speeding. And, he said, they are also working on new policies when it comes to speeding.