GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Cierra Smith, the woman at the center of the official misconduct complaint against Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels, is planning to sue the embattled lawman, according to her attorney.
Daniels accused Smith of stalking him with a gun near his Oakleaf Plantation home in May 2019. His deputies detained her but declined to press charges, saying there wasn’t probable cause for an arrest.
Smith said she was 21-years-old when she began to have an affair with Daniels. She was a rookie corrections officer at the Duval County Pre-trial Detention Facility. Daniels was her boss, the chief of corrections for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Smith’s attorney, Latoya Shelton Williams, told News4Jax that because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation has been completed and special Prosecutor Brad King has filed criminal charges, she will be moving forward with plans for a civil wrongful arrest lawsuit.
“It was a wrongful arrest. It was an abuse of power for [Daniels'] own personal gains,” Williams said. “[Smith] was arrested in front of her 8-year-old daughter. Her daughter was in the vehicle with her, she was pregnant at the time. She sat in the back of a vehicle handcuffed for several hours.”
Smith said the baby she was pregnant with was not Daniels’ child.
A Clay County Sheriff’s Office supervisor ultimately declined to file charges against Smith and released her. He also determined the gun she had in her car was legal.
“She was a young lady, misguided maybe if you want to, who is having a relationship or having an affair with a married man,” Williams said. “And of course she was painted as this bad person. But on that day in particular, she was not a stalker, she was going to meet him as reiterated several times in the past. And he asked her to come meet him.”
News4Jax spoke with Smith shortly after the case was made public. She said she had no intention of hurting Daniels or his family. She claimed she was not stalking him, rather, he asked her to meet him and then set her up.
“At no point in time did I ever want to or do I ever want to hurt his wife, him or anybody else that is associated with him,” Smith told News4Jax reporter Vic Micolucci.
Thursday night, after bonding out of the Clay County Jail, Daniels released a video statement on social media standing by his stance that he never broke the law and that he’s not leaving his position as the county’s top cop.
“I want you to look past the smokescreen of dirty politics,” he said. “One thing I take ownership of as a man is failures as a husband. That has nothing to do with me as a sheriff.”
Williams responded to the video.
“As far as I’m concerned, what he does in moving forward is his prerogative,” she said Friday morning. “As far as being innocent, I think the facts are clear. I think the facts are clear. On that particular day, that was an abuse of power and he lied.”
With criminal charges coming from the FDLE investigation, Smith’s lawyer said she’s moving forward with a lawsuit.
“The thought process is that if they are going to proceed with criminal charges, we are going to proceed civilly as well. Again, it was a wrongful arrest, I believe that there are several damages that she incurred as a result of it.”
Williams claims her client was forced to resign from her job at the jail because of what happened, she lost her place to live and she was emotionally scarred and publicly embarrassed about what happened. Williams did not give a timeline or exact details for the potential legal action.
Daniels has not responded to requests for comment aside from releasing his statement on social media.