Events that led to arrest of Sheriff Darryl Daniels

Sheriff Darryl Daniels' arrest doesn't come out of the blue; it's part of a story the News4Jax team has been following closely for more than a year. Joy Purdy recaps the scandal that brought us to this point, and News4Jax Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jefferson shares his thoughts..

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels turned himself in to authorities on Thursday after a special prosecutor issued an arrest warrant earlier that day.

Daniels was accused of abusing his power, involving a subordinate he was having a romantic relationship with.

On May 6, 2019, Daniels filed a stalking report against Jacksonville corrections officer Cierra Smith -- accusing her of following him in her personal vehicle in the Oakleaf Plantation area. Smith was pulled over, but no charges were filed in the case.

Documents would show -- Smith and Daniels had been involved in a relationship since 2012.

Smith would later tell News4Jax, that back then -- she was a 21-year-old Jacksonville corrections officer while Daniels was chief of the Duval County jail.

She provided photos, text messages and receipts documenting their relationship, which included a trip to Costa Rica in the fall of 2018.

May 7, 2019, the day after Daniels filed the stalking charge, the State Attorney’s Office released a memo to News4Jax, explaining that the week before -- when Daniels told his wife about the affair -- his wife contacted Smith, threatening to kill her.

Smith filed a report with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, but would show up at a community event, following Daniels when he left.

The Sheriff contacted his own wife, who began following the woman.

As all three drove through Oakleaf, Daniels called the Sheriff’s Office, reporting a suspicious car following him, which led to Smith being pulled over by deputies.

According to the state attorney’s office memo, Daniels told the sergeant on scene to arrest Smith for stalking, but a lieutenant -- backed by the undersheriff and a chief -- all said there wasn’t enough cause for an arrest.

Though Sheriff Daniels’ wife walked by his side, hand-in-hand during an interview with News4Jax at the Jacksonville International Airport in May, his wife would file for divorce about two months later, at the end of July.

In late August, Daniels addressed the controversy at a town hall meeting.

“You know, I’ve never made a public apology to that woman and I just want to apologize before you all,” Daniels said. “You know, I’m going to say it in front of God and everybody. I want to make sure that everyone understands that Denise Daniels, I love that woman, and I apologize to her publicly.”

About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.