Putnam County Sheriff DeLoach asks Palatka Mayor Hill to resign at commission meeting

Photo of Sheriff Gator DeLoach at meeting.

PALATKA, Fla. – During a meeting Thursday evening of the Palatka City Commission, Putnam County Sheriff Homer “Gator” DeLoach demanded the resignation of Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill, who was present for the sheriff’s comments.

According to the Palatka Daily News, Deloach addressed the Putnam County Republican Club Tuesday night and accused the mayor, who is an attorney, of going to crime scenes and interfering with police duties.

Hill has called those allegations baseless and defamatory. DeLoach addressed the mayor’s comments during the meeting.

“Mayor Hill told the newspaper he has never interfered with a traffic stop and supports the police working closely with the community they serve. That is a false narrative,” DeLoach said.

The sheriff told commissioners he has “personal knowledge as to the untruthfulness” of the mayor’s comments and has requested through public records body-worn camera footage of certain events.

“These personal accounts and body camera directly contradict what the mayor told the newspaper,” DeLoach said.

The sheriff said in a packet provided to commissioners that he included notices of appearance and documents filed, pointing to one case in particular where, DeLoach said, the mayor filed a motion to withdraw as council at 8:12 p.m. Wednesday night after he “lied to the newspaper reporter about his involvement in Palatka Police Department cases.”

DeLoach then referenced an edition of the Palatka Daily News from Feb. 25, when he said the mayor was quoted as saying “we’ve got to address home first, and we’ve got to make sure that the citizens never lose our trust.”

“To categorize your oath of office and the statement to the newspaper as disingenuous is a gross understatement,” DeLoach said.

The sheriff demanded the mayor tender his resignation.

Photo of Mayor Hill at Palatka commission meeting. (News4JAX.com)

After public comment, Hill spent more than a half hour sharing his thoughts, speaking about how he’s been committed to helping people in his community and fighting injustice, racism and bigotry with the purpose of making Putnam County a better place.

“Homer DeLoach has the audacity to come up and say that I’m unethical and unprofessional,” Hill said. “I’m a servant. I’ve been serving this community since beginning of time, and I will continue to serve this community.”

Hill said that last month, the city heard from citizens who express concerns about law enforcement and their response to continued complaints of violence.

“I’ve become aware of officers not having their body cameras on. This protects them and us,” Hill said. “See, the sheriff wouldn’t know anything about that because the sheriff’s office refuses to get body cameras to protect their officers and to protect their citizens to conveniently — the allegations of me harassing officers in the street doesn’t make it to a body camera because a picture’s worth 1,000 words.”

The mayor added that the commission and city manager are not being apprised of major occurrences and recently haven’t received further communication after making multiple requests.

“We’ve asked for body cam footage that we don’t get. So does that mean that it doesn’t exist or that we just don’t get it?” Hill asked. “I’m sick and tired of learning about major occurrences inside of this community from the newspaper and not from the people who work for the city of Palatka.”

After demanding Hill’s resignation, DeLoach said he’ll be forwarding his information to the Commission on Ethics.