JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has accused a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office corrections officer he was previously involved with romantically of stalking him, according to a report obtained by the News4Jax I-TEAM.
Daniels filed the stalking report against the officer, Cierra Smith, May 6. According to the investigative report, Daniels claimed the woman started following him in her personal vehicle in the Oakleaf Plantation area "in a manner that caused him great concern."
A Jeep driven by Smith was pulled over in response to Daniels' complaint and a loaded gun was found inside the vehicle, according to a copy of the report. But attorney Latoya Williams-Shelton, who represents Smith, said there was a legitimate reason for the weapon to be there.
"She's a corrections officer. She's licensed to carry. The weapon was in her glove box," Williams-Shelton said. "They actually had an arrangement to meet on that particular day, and it just turned out to be a huge setup. Ms. Smith also had her daughter in the car."
No charges were filed in the case, and documents show the woman and Daniels had been involved in a lengthy relationship. They first got to know each other when Daniels was a supervisor at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office before he was elected sheriff in Clay County.
The State Attorney's Office released a memo to News4Jax that was dated May 7, 2019. It read in part:
The sheriff has been having a long term affair with a JSO officer (since 2012). Last
week, the sheriff informed his wife about the affair which led his wife to contact the
woman and threaten to kill her. The woman then filed a report with JSO.
Tonight (May 6), the sheriff was at a community event where the woman showed up and followed him when he left. The sheriff contacted his wife who also began following the woman.
All three were driving through the Oakleaf subdivision when the sheriff called in a suspicious car following him, which led to the woman being pulled over by the police at Oakleaf Junior High School.
According to the memo, Daniels directed the sergeant on scene to arrest the woman for stalking. The woman was placed into handcuffs, but the lieutenant said he was uncomfortable taking the woman to jail, saying he did not believe there was probable cause for an arrest. The undersheriff and chief were in agreement, and the lieutenant told the State Attorney's Office that woman was not taken to jail.
The woman, according to the memo, also informed the officers that she was pregnant but would not answer when asked if the baby belonged to the sheriff.
A JSO internal affairs investigation found that Smith was accused of having sex with Daniels on the job. At first, Smith denied that allegation, but she acknowledged it in a statement given to the Clay County Sheriff's Office. Daniels declined a request for an interview.
Recorded phone call under scrutiny
A report mentions a three-way phone call was recorded between Daniels, Smith and her ex-husband, Larry Smith. During the phone call, Smith's ex-husband apparently questioned Daniels about the nature of his and Smith's relationship.
"There was an occasion where we did have sexual contact," Daniels could be heard saying in the call, according to the report. "Not like, probably not what you're thinking."
Larry Smith appeared upset throughout the call, mentioning at one point that he donated to Daniels' campaign.
Larry Smith, who said he's a lieutenant in the military, told News4Jax he learned about the relationship between when he found a chain of romantic emails between his wife and Daniels. He said he was shocked.
"Darryl (Daniels) was an uncle-like figure. Darryl gave me advice when it came to marriage, how to raise a family," Larry Smith said. He gave me advice because he served in the U.S. Navy. He gave me military advice and was kind of more of a mentor to me."
According to Larry Smith, Daniels gave his wife thousands of dollars in exchange to not speak about their relationship.
"Like hush money," Larry Smith said. "Like, I'll pay this for you. I'll pay this off for you. I'll buy this trip for you."
"It's one of those things where the powerful, they have to be held accountable for their actions."
The most recent report from the Clay County Sheriff's Office said "Cierra (Smith) advised (that) Sheriff Daniels and herself have been in constant communication with each other since the allegations have been brought to his attention… Last week, Sheriff Daniels stated he would inform his wife of the affair before the news media released anything about the incident."
After a request for comment from Daniels, News4Jax was told the sheriff is out of state, attending the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.