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Beach safety officer accused of improper political commentary using county computer
By Pat Andrews
posted Aug 5, 2013 - 6:51:22am
Volusia County is nearly finished with its investigation into allegations that county employee and Beach Safety Officer Todd Snipes used county computers on county time to make unsavory comments about the Trayvon Martin case.
Dr. L. Ronald Durham, president of the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance and pastor of Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, sent an email suggesting Snipes would get a "sweet deal" for his punishment.
Durham said his sources reported that recent talks between Snipes' attorneys and a representative from the county may result in an early retirement with benefits for Snipes. Durham has been calling for Snipes to be fired.
When asked for comment on Durham's allegation, Volusia County spokesman Dave Byron stated Aug. 1 that Snipes is entitled to due process.
"The county is very close to completing a thorough investigation on this personnel matter and will respond when a conclusion is reached," Byron said.
The following day, Aug. 2, Byron released a statement from County Manager James Dinneen, which said the investigation into electronic images found in the county's computer system and tied to Snipes is nearing completion.
Dinneen also emphasized that the county is following due process, "to which the law enforcement officer is entitled as a rank and file county employee and as a law enforcement officer."
The investigation should be concluded soon, Dinneen said.
Durham called the emails in question "repulsive and revolting commentary regarding Trayvon Martin."
One of the images portrays 17-year-old Martin standing in a convenience store, holding a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. The image is captioned, "Those Skittles were to die for."
Martin was carrying iced tea and Skittles when he encountered George Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer, in a gated community in Sanford last year. During a confrontation, Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.
Zimmerman said he shot in self-defense after Martin attacked him, and he was recently acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the case, giving rise to protests from African-American leaders and other civil-rights supporters around the country.
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