PALATKA, Fla. - One Putnam County Sheriff's Office detective who lost a handgun in a bar fight and a second who was belligerent and flashed his badge the same night at the same Palatka bar were fired by Sheriff Jeff Hardy.
According to documents from the Sheriff's Office investigation into the June 8 incident, witnesses said off-duty Deputies Josh Maynard and Raymond Strickland were drinking at the Hi-Level bar when Maynard pinched a woman, then fought with her boyfriend. During the fight, Maynard lost a concealed handgun, which was retrieved by the owner of the bar, who refused to give it back.
"A second officer made an attempt to retrieve it, which I refused," bar owner Larry Adkins said. "He flashed his badge at me and we got into some verbal conversation and we made him leave also."
Maynard, a department employee since 2011, was fired on Monday. The investigation concluded he was highly intoxicated, instigated a bar fight, took a concealed weapon to a bar and lost it. During his interview in the investigation, he recalled having lots to drink and multiple shots of alcohol.
After Maynard's gun was discovered missing, witnesses say Strickland became belligerent and rude to employees and flashed his badge. Adkins told investigators Strickland never said why he showed his badge.
"It's unfortunate that something like that happens, particularly law enforcement. Our place of business is not known for that kind of thing," Adkins said.
The findings of the investigation found that Strickland violated standards of conduct and misused his agency identification. The investigator also wrote that a member of a covert Sheriff's Office unit, Strickland endangered that unit by identifying himself as law enforcement at a bar, the investigation concluded.
On Monday, one day short of finishing his one-year probation, Strickland was notified that Sheriff Hardy had ordered him fired.
Strickland was the subject of controversy after the July deputy-involved shooting death of Alfred Dobson, 35, an unarmed, mentally ill man in Satsuma. While the investigation found Dobson was shot seven times in a violent struggle, the shooting was found to be justifiable.
That shooting was only a month after Strickland was rehired in Putnam County after nearly losing his job with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in 2010. According to documents, he pinned a security guard against a wall at a Tampa swimming pool after being caught urinating in public, then berated Tampa police officers called to the scene.
Because Strickland was on probation, he has no option to appeal his dismissal. Maynard has until Friday to ask for a hearing on his termination.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office did not comment on the firings.
Adkins said he's comfortable with the decision to fire them.
"Any time that that does happen, the individuals should be punished to the extent of the law, just like you or I or anyone else that goes against the grain," he said.
Adkins points out that he has more than a dozen cameras set up around his bar. He said fighting and any kind of bad behavior undermines the integrity of his business and won't be tolerated.
"We don't condone that kind of conduct from anyone, let alone law enforcement," Adkins said. "We think we did our job well here and did it the correct way, as well as the Sheriff's Office in handling it."
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