Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Friday defended deputies who are accused of watching three black girls drown.
Deputies allege that Dominique Battle, 16, Ashaunti Butler, 15, and Laniya Miller, 15, stole a Honda Accord from a Walmart parking lot the night of March 30 and inadvertently drove it into a pond at around 4am.
Originally, the deputies were heralded as heroes for taking off their belts and trying to save the girls, but newly released dashcam video seems to recast their efforts as less than heroic.
“He’s off road in the water!” said one deputy, according to BayNews9. “They’re in the water stranded. Get me a unit over on 275 just south of Gandy.”
Another deputy then suggests using a boat to rescue the girls.
Florida Police Department Where Deputies Allegedly Watched 3 Black Girls Drown Has Long List of Bad CopsClick to tweet
“Let’s get rescue out here in a boat,” one deputy said. “We might have to go in, in a boat.”
While one deputy seems to indicate that the occupants can’t be saved.
“They’re done. They’re done. They are 6-7, dude.”
“I thought I heard yelling,” another deputy says.
“As it was going down,” the other answers. “But now, they’re done. They’re done.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a press conference supporting his deputies.
“In reports that were written by the deputies who took their gun belts off, took their clothes off and went in the water – those deputies aren’t lying.”
The problem isn’t just the action, or inaction, taken by the deputies, but the reputation of his police department.
Watch video detailing problems plaguing the department below: