When people think about the role of the police in society, the motto "to protect and serve" is often used to describe their duties and purpose. Protection should be provided for all citizens, including those who stand accused of breaking the law.
However, in Florida's Pinellas County, law enforcement officers may have done just the opposite last month after three teenage girls drowned in a stolen car one girl drove into a pond in a cemetery.
Despite dashcam video that clearly indicates sheriff's deputies failed to attempt to save the lives of the trio of girls -- two of whom were just 15, while the third was only a year older -- the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office claims that officers tried to rescue them.
The PCSO earlier stated deputies removed gun belts before wading into the pond to attempt a rescue, only to discover the deputies' feet sunk into the mud, making rescue impossible.
Audio footage that accompanies the video tells a very different story, however. Officers remain by their police car, debating on whether to enter the pond and attempt a rescue:
"I hear them yelling, I think!" says a deputy. Another responds, "They're done. They are 6-7, dude," referring to deceased persons. The first officer reiterates from the shore that he "thought [he] heard yelling." As the car sinks, the other responds, "But now they're done."
Despite both audio and video evidence to the contrary, the Pinellas County sheriff continued to defend the deputies to a local news outlet, claiming that the policemen removed their heavy gun belts and entered the murky water to try to save the teens.
He claims that the deputies didn't lie before stating that the three girls drowned at 4 a.m. in a stolen car.
That version may be as murky as the water in the graveyard pond, however, and the parents of the deceased teens could conceivably have grounds to pursue wrongful death litigation against the sheriff's office.
Source: The Root, "Dashcam Footage Shows Fla. Deputies Discussing Whether to Rescue Drowning Girls in Stolen Car," Breanna Edwards, April 22, 2016