Partner in P.I. firm hired by city is ex-cop facing a felony
3/13/2012 7:08 AM EDT | Jeff Burlew Of Tallahassee Democrat
A partner in the private-investigation firm hired by the city of Tallahassee to look into City Hall critic Erwin Jackson is facing charges he fled from the Florida Highway Patrol and crashed into two vehicles while driving drunk.
Scott Darnell, a former Tallahassee Police Department officer who left the force in 2005, was arrested July 15, 2011, and later charged with aggravated fleeing of an officer, a felony, and leaving the scene of a crash and DUI with property damage, both misdemeanors, according to court records.
Darnell, 47, is a partner in the firm Specialized Investigations Group, which does business in North Florida from Tallahassee to Pensacola. Earlier this month, the City Attorney’s Office said it hired Donna Brown, another former TPD officer and partner in the P.I. firm, to investigate Jackson as part of its defense of a small-claims lawsuit he brought against the city late last year over a utility easement. Jackson, however, believes the city hired private eyes for only one reason — because he’s been a persistent thorn in the side of City Hall.
According to court records, an FHP trooper spotted Darnell’s Toyota SUV pass and cut off a pick-up truck July 15 as the vehicles were merging onto Interstate 10 at North Monroe Street. At the time, both vehicles were behind the trooper, who was watching from his rear-view mirror. The SUV passed the trooper, and the driver of the pickup truck drove up, yelling through his window that the SUV had hit his truck.
The trooper turned on his lights and sirens and took off after the SUV, but Darnell sped east down I-10, swerving in and out of traffic and forcing other cars out of their lanes, according to court records. Darnell exited I-10 at Thomasville Road, running a red light in the process, and headed north before crashing into another vehicle, knocking his own SUV out of commission.
Records obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat show Darnell suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. Tests showed his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, according to court records. It was not immediately clear from records whether anyone else was injured.
The case is still pending in Leon Circuit Court. Records from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services show Darnell’s application as a licensed private investigator was denied. It’s not yet clear when that happened.
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