“You should hang”: DUI suspect in wrong-way collision taunts arresting deputies, tells one he should die

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, FL – A wrong-way driver, suspected of a DUI, taunted arresting deputies and hurled racial slurs at them, telling one that he should hang.

According to a press release from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, in the early hours of Monday morning on March 21, 2022, driver Nathan Zacharias, 27, of Deltona, was driving his pickup eastbound in the westbound traffic lanes on International Speedway Boulevard.

Other drivers had to swerve to avoid him.  

Zacharias hit the mirror of one vehicle that managed otherwise to swerve out of his way.  Occupants of that vehicle were unhurt.

However, Zacharias collided head-on with another vehicle, which “sustained heavy damage and was inoperable.”

Two of the four persons in that vehicle had to be transported to the hospital with injuries from the crash.

Responding deputies found that Zacharias appeared intoxicated.

The press release notes:

“While conducting the crash investigation, it was evident that Zacharias was impaired, but not injured. 

“His fine motor skills were diminished, his speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and bloodshot, he was unsteady on his feet and he smelled heavily of an alcoholic beverage. 

“Several open and unopened beer cans were on the floor of his vehicle.”

Zacharias had also been arrested for a DUI just recently, in August 2021.

One responding deputy found that Zacharias’ license restricted him to driving for business purposes only, due to that DUI arrest.

Zacharias claimed that a deer caused him to swerve into oncoming traffic while he was driving home to Deltona, even though he was driving in the opposite direction toward Daytona Beach.

Video shared by the Sheriff’s Department shows Zacharias repeatedly taunting the responding deputies.

Zacharias can be heard to say repeatedly:

“You’re a monster, you’re a monster.”

Deputies can be seen responding calmly and guiding Zacharias into the patrol car.

Zacharias continues by saying again:

“You’re a monster, dude.”

Then the arrestee continues by taunting, laughing while saying:

“To serve and protect, right?  Serve and protect.  Ha.  What a joke.  What a joke you guys are.  You guys are a joke.”

One deputy responded calmly:

“When you sober up and see the video, you’re going to see the joke.”

The press release goes on to say that Zacharias continued with verbal abuse in the deputy’s patrol car during transport, noting:

“While being transported in the deputy’s patrol vehicle, Zacharias became verbally abusive and made use of racial slurs several times. 

“He further stated that the deputy should die, and that he should be hanged.”

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According to ClickOrlando.com News, Zacharias faces six charges.

The first charge is “Driving under the influence.”  Charges two and three are “Damage to personal property.”  The fourth charge is “Making threats to a law enforcement officer.”  Charge number five is “Not obeying drivers license restrictions,” and number six is “Refusal to submit to DUI testing.”

Bond was initially set at $9,000 but was raised to $20,000.

According to WESH Orlando, Zacharias is being held at the Volusia County Branch Jail.

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Hero trooper uses patrol vehicle to stop drunk driver from plowing into 10K race, saves countless lives

Originally published March 10, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – A Florida Highway Patrol Trooper is being hailed as a hero after she stopped a drunk driver from potentially plowing into thousands of race participants.

The trooper’s selfless actions occurred on Sunday, March 6, 2022, during the running of the annual Skyway 10k in Manatee County, Florida.

According to the Herald-Tribune, a woman driving a 2011 BMW 335i was traveling “at a high rate of speed,” on I-275, approaching the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, where thousands of runners and walkers were crossing.

I-275 was closed at that time due to the race.

The driver did not detour onto US-41 despite being directed to do so, and she instead drove around barriers and through traffic cones, past state patrol presence.

As the woman headed toward the bridge, two Florida Highway Patrol troopers drove south on the northbound lanes of I-275 to intercept her.

In the video below, the dash cam recording of Trooper Toni Schuck shows the moment when Schuck directed her patrol vehicle into the path of the oncoming BMW, colliding nearly head-on with the car:

Schuck is a 26-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Herald-Tribune reports that she suffered serious injuries in the collision, but is now recovering at home.

According to WTSP, those injuries included a “serious head wound” and a concussion, as well as significant lacerations that “are expected to cause permanent scarring to her head and face.”

The driver, later identified as Kristen Kay Watts, 52, of Sarasota, was also seriously injured and was found to be intoxicated.

No participants in the Skyway 10k were hurt.

Watts was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol and charged with:

“driving under the influence with serious injury, two counts of DUI with property damage and two counts of reckless driving involving injury and property damage.”

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Ken Watson called Schuck the “last line of defense,” saying:

“There was no time to think.  You have to act.

“And without question, she was the last line of defense.”

Watson continued:

“There’s no telling what would have happened, had that vehicle actually reached all of those runners. 

“You know, the bottom line is, these troopers saved dozens upon dozens of lives….

“For this trooper [Schuck] to risk her life to make sure that others would be ok, is the epitome of what service is all about.”

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WTSP reports that FHP Sgt. Steve Gaskins wrote an email praising Schuck and the other trooper who drove to intercept Watts and her vehicle.

He said:

“Both are high-caliber and high-quality members dedicated to the FHP and serving the public.”

Gaskins continued:

“Every one of them responded immediately and without hesitation.  

“While the crash was severe, I know the injured Trooper who is currently receiving medical care as I author this email, is absolutely relieved to have been available to ensure the safety of hundreds of innocent persons.”

Skyway 10K announced in a Facebook post:

“On behalf of the Skyway 10K, we are beyond thankful for our law enforcement partners and the trooper who risked her life to keep our race participants safe.

“We are extremely grateful for the Florida Highway Patrol and all of our federal, state and local law enforcement partner agencies, not only for providing layers of security for this event, but the sacrifices they make every day.”

Watts is being held at the Manatee County jail on a $52,000 bond.

Fox 13 reporters shared a video showing Watts laughing during her first court appearance:

The Florida Highway Patrol announced:

“Those wishing to contact Trooper Schuck, who continues to recover from her injuries with her family at home, may send their thoughts to her attention at Florida Highway Patrol, 11305 North McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612 or via our FLHSMV and FHP social media.”

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Justice served: Man who murdered Orlando police officer sentenced to death by Florida judge

Originally published March 4, 2022

ORLANDO, FL — Cop killer Markeith Loyd has been sentenced to death by a Florida judge for murdering Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton, 42.

On Thursday, Ninth Circuit Judge Leticia Marques announced her decision during a short sentencing hearing, whose attendees included family members.

Marques followed the recommendation of a jury and sentenced Loyd to death for the January 2017 killing of Clayton.

The sentence came nearly three months after a jury recommended the death penalty in Loyd’s case and more than five years after Clayton was killed in the line of duty, according to reports by CNN.

Clayton was a master sergeant in the police department at the time of her death, but was posthumously promoted to lieutenant.

Clayton was trying to arrest Marques, who murdered his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, one month earlier and was on the run.

Loyd was convicted in October of 2019 of multiple charges in the murder of Dixon. He avoided the death penalty in that case after a jury recommended a life sentence.

The incident with Lt. Clayton unfolded outside a Walmart.

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New York Daily News reported:

“Loyd was on the run after shooting Dixon to death when a shopper spotted him outside a Walmart and notified Clayton as she shopped at the store.

“Clayton and Loyd scuffled as the then-sergeant — she was promoted posthumously — tried to arrest him.

“He shot her four times, the last time in the neck as she lay prone in the parking lot, according to the Orlando Sentinel.”

Loyd was arrested a few days later.

On Nov. 3, 2021, Loyd was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault with a firearm, carjacking with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon for killing Clayton, WKMG reported.

Lt. Clayton’s sister, Ashley, spoke with media after Loyd was sentenced and said her family is glad he was sentenced to death, saying in part:

“Today is a good day, and I thank God for the outcome. It’s definitely a relief, and I’m just thankful, really thankful. My whole family is thankful for relief.”

Ashley, along with her other family members, wore pink and explained why:

“Pink was her favorite color we wore it today in honor of her. She loved pink nails. She always would wear pink nails. She loved pink. I love her and miss her and I’m so glad, I’m so glad.”

She noted the toll on her family and acknowledged she felt her sister’s presence: 

“This has been a hard five years, just knowing that, you know, just reliving it. Every day it’s just like reliving it, every day….

“Today I felt her presence, and I know she can rest, and we can hopefully just heal from here.”

Ashley told reporters she was very anxious before the sentencing, but felt the right decision would be made:

“I just keep hearing, ‘Life, life, life’ — we needed to get the death [sentence] because my sister didn’t have to go.

“She could still be here today. She was a good person. She didn’t deserve what happened to her, and this outcome is, this is the outcome that it should have been.”

Ashley thanked the attorneys for doing their jobs and said her sister finally received justice.

Finally, Ashley also noted there was no one quite like her sister:

“Even in heaven, I know that she is making God proud of her too. So, she’s an incredible person.”

Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón released a statement after the sentencing:

“Today, the Court has accepted the recommendation by the jury to give Lieutenant Clayton’s murderer the death penalty.

“Although nothing can undo the heartache created by the defendant’s heinous actions, we hope that this brings solace to our community, knowing a dangerous murderer will face the highest penalty provided by law.

“Lieutenant Clayton impacted the lives of those around her throughout the City of Orlando.

“Her leadership and involvement in programs like Operation Positive Direction is still felt today by seeing the dedication our officers and staff have in mentoring our youth through this program.

“I know that her legacy will live on by all who were impacted by her because, just as Lieutenant Clayton made it her life’s work to guide our youth in a positive direction, we will continue to do that in her honor.

“Though this decision may bring a sense of closure, we will never forget Debra’s sacrifice to the Orlando Police Department and City of Orlando.

“We are committed to serving in Lieutenant Debra Clayton’s honor, always.

“Please continue to keep Seth, Johnny and the entire Clayton family in your thoughts and prayers.”

CNN affiliate WFTV reported Loyd’s family and attorney did not speak Thursday, but said Loyd “lashed out verbally after his death sentence was handed down.”

While Loyd is back in jail, in Los Angeles prisoners from the largest jail will be released.

Here is that report.

LOS ANGELES, CA – “Criminals First, Safety Last.” That should be the name of Los Angeles County’s program to close the Men’s Central Jail, rather than the rainbows and cotton candy official name: “Care First, Jails Last.”

The program, approved by local lawmakers, would close the largest jail within the world’s largest jail system with no provisions for housing the 3,800 suddenly freed inmates, 900 of whom have mental health problems.

Opened in 1963, the enormous jail has been the temporary home to some of the nation’s most notorious criminals, including Charles Manson, “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez and “Golden State Killer” Lonnie Franklin.

The county had planned to replace it with something called the Consolidated Correctional Treatment Facility, where inmates with mental health problems would receive the help they need.

But as often happens when actions are not thought through, that plan fell to a desire for incarceration-diversion programs and community-based alternatives.

That culminated in the county’s decision to cancel the plans to open the treatment facility. But it did not stop their plans to close the jail and on July 7, 2020, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to close Men’s Central Jail within a year.

For some perspective, the LA County Sheriff’s Department is dealing with a $47 million decrease in jail funding as it fights a surge in crime that includes a 94% increase in murders over the past two years.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he plans to sue the Board of Supervisors to keep the men’s jail open. Villanueva stated:

“They don’t have the legal authority to do this. They think by removing the budget from us that we will be forced to close the jail.

But every single inmate is there by orders of the court, so the board has no authority to intervene and release them from custody. They are smoking some strong stuff at the Board of Supervisors.”

Villanueva was elected three years ago and has battled the board from day one to be allowed to employ proven public safety measures amid the defund the police movement.

The board appears to dismiss the Sheriff’s suggestions and instead seems intent on remove his authority. It has, for instance, rejected Villanueva’s request for outside counsel, or the funds to hire his own, to resolve the jail issue.

County Counsel Rodrigo Castro-Silva responded to Villanueva’s request with a Dec. 28, 2021, letter, which reads in part:

“Like all county department heads, you are responsible for operating the Sheriff’s Department within the parameters of the budget. Your disagreements with the Board regarding budgetary matters is not a basis for independent outside counsel.”

Instead, Castro-Silva is demanding the Sheriff “work alongside the Board.” His vision:

“A new model of criminal justice policies to offer more effective rehabilitative options and better serve the community.”

Efforts last week to get the board to reconsider closing the Men’s Central Jail were unsuccessful. Villanueva criticized the board for claiming to make counseling a priority yet wanting to dump mentally ill prisoners into the community. He said:

“They’re telling me pound sand — I don’t know what I’m doing. They’re the ones who want to close the only facility with 1,000 single-man cells of the most dangerous inmates in America, but I don’t know what I’m doing.”

The federal government has been monitoring the county jails since 2015 under a federal consent decree that stemmed from a lawsuit arguing there was a lack of mental health treatment in the jail along with excessive use of force by staff.

Villanueva noted that a certain standard of care for mental health that is legally required under the decree would be unattainable if the jail were to be closed. In fact, federal monitors have noted improved jail conditions over the years. One monitor, Jeffrey Schwartz, wrote to the board in a Feb. 7 letter:

“We have seen substantial improvement in the Downtown jails … and have noted that progress in our reports to the Federal Court. We believe that substantially reduced staffing in Custody Operations, particularly at the Sergeant level, will endanger the important positive changes that have been achieved.”

So even with advances in the system, it is clear that some in leadership positions have a dubious agenda.

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