Florida Police Officer Fired And Arrested After Sending Ex-Girlfriend Picture Of Suicide Victim

6922239_GThere is an interesting case out of Florida where a Deputy Austin Douglas, 29, has been fired and arrested after officials say he texted photos of a suicide victim to his ex-girlfriend’s cell phone. The termination is understandable but the criminal charge is relatively rare.

Douglas has been charged with being a custodian providing unauthorized photograph or video or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a person. I found the public record law barring such use but not the underlying criminal provision.

There are cases where I believe termination is clearly warranted that we have discussed earlier (and here). Moreover, such unprofessional and unethical use of photographs present a serious liability question for police departments.

The picture was from a Feb. 19 suicide. After his ex-girlfriend asked how his weekend was going, he sent the image to show it was not going well. She then reported him to authorities and gave them the picture. Douglas is reportedly in the midst of a custody battle with the ex-girlfriend and she may have now guaranteed that he will not only be convicted but lose custody of their children. It appears that vengeance remains a dish best served cold.

Douglas worked for the sheriff’s office since 2006.

14 thoughts on “Florida Police Officer Fired And Arrested After Sending Ex-Girlfriend Picture Of Suicide Victim”

  1. Me, looking at the photo on this post, I was thinking “meathead.” But, yeah, I’m a bigot I guess….or something. šŸ™

  2. I would make him Chief of Police
    and send the Chief who fired him to Vegas to supervise clerks at the casino. Maybe he was PTSD and sent the photos in a flash moment of despair. Florida, as at least one commenter has said, is a bad state with plenty of stories for our website. Just take a look at the guy they elected Governor– the shaved head.

  3. There is a custody fight. She saw her chance and took it. Wouldn’t you?

  4. Nick

    On a scale of one to ten, given the info given, it’s a two. So, toss him for miss use of powers etc. Jail him for threatening the ex if it can be made to stick. But, it is still a two, nobody dead, no spines cracked. Just a sardonic observation.

    The cops that threw the old man to the ground are tens.

    The muscle bound officer that choked the cigarette vendor to death with three other officers attending, is a ten.

    The officer that shot the kid with the air gun without surveilling the situation first, in a little over one second, is a ten.

  5. Old due here, which y’all know anyway. But, tell me just how does crud like this go “viral?” Are there thousands of people cruising You Tube dot com just randomly looking for this kind of nonsense? How many “views” does it take to make something “viral?” I mean, I go to You Tube for specific subjects and none of them would include suicide victim photos. We are indeed a strange race.

  6. What is troubling about sending these pictures out is that there is no control over their proliferation. Families members might open their computer to find the terrible pictures of the death of their loved one have gone viral.

    I agree that we have to learn more about the story. Was this a child custody battle where she was just waiting for her chance to gain leverage or revenge? I understand how he would lose his job, but why would he lose custody for sending out evidence photos? Was it a threat against her?

  7. “Douglas was suspended for 20 days last year after he started dating a woman he had met while placing her into medical custody under the Baker Act, Nocco said.”

    “Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 (Florida Statute 394.451-394.47891[1] (2009 rev.)), commonly known as the “Baker Act,” allows the involuntary institutionalization and examination of an individual.

    * possibly has a mental illness (as defined in the Baker Act).
    * is a harm to self, harm to others, or self neglectful (as defined in the Baker Act).”

    Ha. I wonder if that’s the same woman who turned him in.

  8. Isaac w/ some sardonic morning humor. I agree w/ Alyssa and Pogo, we need a Paul Harvey, “Rest of the story.”

  9. No kid waving an air gun shot, no loosie vendor choked to death, no grandpas thrown to the ground; it’s a good day.

  10. “… texted photos of a suicide victim to his ex-girlfriendā€™s cell phone

    I’m with Alyssa.
    This part suggested an implied threat, and was not likely the first one she’d received, else why call the cops for a stupid joke?

    He “sent the photos from his phone to his ex-girlfriend’s phone, telling her how his weekend was going.
    I don’t get the idea she was asking him “how his weekend was going.
    I have my doubts about what he told investigators was the reason.

    From another article;
    “The ex-girlfriend “was offended” by the photographs, according to the affidavit, and brought her phone to the internal affairs department of the Sheriff’s Office.

    And this:

    “Douglas was suspended for 20 days last year after he started dating a woman he had met while placing her into medical custody under the Baker Act, Nocco said.”

  11. I really don’t understand the criminal charge, seems like piling on.

  12. The criminal charge is over the top. Losing his job is sufficient punishment and a strong deterrent to others. I don’t know what it is about American culture that we are so excessively punitive…

  13. What a shame to lose such a compassionate officer. NO T. In Florida paramedics walk away with body parts to train their cadaver dogs…. expect literally anything from ‘first responders’ in Florida and elsewhere

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