The Beacon has obtained body-camera footage from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office that reveals a deputy making disparaging statements about a woman’s report that she had been raped. At one point, Deputy Matthew Myers calls the woman’s account of what happened “doubtful.”
The 30-minute video and audio recording was made while Myers and fellow Deputy Jeremiah Wilson were posted on March 16, 2018, outside the home of the suspect in the rape, which had been reported earlier that day. Myers and Wilson had been sent to apprehend the suspect.
Some 19 months later, on Oct. 24, the suspect, Michael A. Chapman, 25, was found guilty of sexual battery and burglary with battery. He has yet to be sentenced.
While Myers and Wilson waited outside Chapman’s residence, Myers speculated aloud about the veracity of the victim’s story.
“To me, none of this sounds legit,” he said.
The two deputies continue to discuss the victim’s report for about five minutes, and Myers outlines in vulgar terms what she said happened.
The recording is unclear and, although the second deputy can be heard taking part in the conversation, his words are not discernible.
Since releasing the recording in response to a request from The Beacon, the Sheriff’s Office has opened an internal-affairs investigation into the matter. Because that investigation is now ongoing, footage from Wilson’s body camera is part of the investigation and wasn’t immediately available from the Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m very disturbed by [Myers’] comments, and have opened an internal review of his actions,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “It’s troubling that [he] would be that callous when investigating a sex crime.”
Empathy for the victim is part of officer training, Chitwood said.
“And common sense when dealing with a rape victim,” he added.
According to Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Andrew Gant, the department received a complaint about the deputy’s remarks around the same time The Beacon requested the footage.
“Sheriff Chitwood had an internal affairs investigation opened, and Deputy Myers was served with notice of that IA this morning,” Gant said in an email Oct. 31.
Myers has been with the department since November 2012, according to Gant, and was the subject of another internal-affairs investigation in 2017.
“The result was a letter of reprimand for neglect of duty after a man under arrest for DUI escaped from the holding cell at District 4 (Deltona office),” Gant said.
Records show that Myers also received an award for community service for work that year for a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program in Deltona.