Last night, Frontline/NYTimes had a show, "A Death in St. Augustine" that focused on the death of Michelle O'Connell, a girlfriend of Jeremy Banks, a deputy sheriff in the county. This case was used to shed light on the larger issue of how police handle/don't handle domestic violence amongst their officers. County police responded to a call from Banks saying that his girlfriend had "shot herself." According to her friends and family, she had before the shooting told them that she was leaving Banks, who had a temper and was abusive, that night. And she was ecstatic at finally getting a job w/health insurance for her and her daughter.

The police "investigation" zeroed in on the death as a suicide, did no forensic analysis, and ignored the family's requests to be interviewed (while letting Banks look at investigation notes) and committed numerous errors in investigative procedure. The family succeeded in getting the state to investigate, but that led to a conflict btw authorities that the locals ultimately won.

This is getting too long, but sadly, the most horrific part of this— apart from the murder— is that, at the end, the police department have CELEBRATION for Banks getting "cleared" and for O'Connell's brother, who had been a vociferous critic of the police department, getting rehired and seemingly promoted by the Sheriff's Office after accusing state authorities of "misleading" his family into thinking his sister was murdered. At the ceremony:

He motioned to Mr. Banks and added, "This guy right here came so damn close to being charged with homicide, it's scary."

Then the sheriff asked Mr. Banks and Mr. O'Connell to stand. "Let's give these two guys a hand."

So I guess I'm most grateful this Thanksgiving that my brother wouldn't stay friends with my murderer for the sake of a job*


Sorry for the flippant title. The sight of a whole police department congratulating these guys over a banquet made me nauseous and and this was the only way I could handle it. But if you put that Florida gif up, I will dismiss because this shit is much bigger than Florida.

*I don't discount the possibility that this guy was threatened in some way.