92ºF

FDLE agent suspended over Michelle O'Connell case wants name cleared

Michelle O'Connell
Michelle O'Connell

The state law enforcement agent at the center of a long running debate over the September 2010 shooting death of a St. Augustine woman, Michelle O'Connell, is speaking out through his attorney.

Medical examiners and independent prosecutors have ruled her death a suicide but O'Connell's parents, and the lead agent for the state investigation, Rusty Rodgers, insisted it was a homicide.

The bullet that killed O'Connell was fired from her boyfriend's gun. That boyfriend is St. Johns County Deputy Jeremy Banks and the gun used was his service revolver.

Banks was cleared in after her death was ruled a suicide and eventually went back to work for the Sheriff's Office.

Rodgers (pictured below) was suspended in 2013 accused of using questionable techniques and forming inappropriate connections with O'Connell's family.

photo

Alachua County State Attorney Bill Cervone looked into any charges against Rodgers and said Rodgers made preconceived beliefs or early conclusions as to what happened to O'Connell.

He also said Rodgers engaged in questionable investigative techniques and misled witnesses.

In a letter from Rodgers' lawyer to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the lawyer said Rodgers is "appalled" by the inaccuracies in Cervone's report and feels, "compelled to correct the misleading or false allegations."

His attorney points out that Rodgers joined the investigation under protest because the sheriff at the time requested him and said he then found himself being, "the scapegoat for an investigation that had already been bungled by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office."

Rodgers' attorney said this is the only time in his 39-year career that his integrity has been questioned.

Rodgers remains on suspension pending the outcome of the FDLE investigation into his actions.


About the Author: