A deputy was arrested Wednesday after an investigation determined he asked one woman suspect to expose herself and groped another, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the charges stem from separate incidents involving Deputy Julio Garcia, 26, who had been on the job about 15 months.
On Oct. 7, a 24-year-old woman was arrested by Garcia on a charge of grand theft of an vehicle during a traffic stop, investigators said.
According to an affadavit, following her arrest, Garcia transported her to a hospital for treatment of a wrist injury and told her he could “get her out of this situation” if she exposed her breasts and genitals. She complied, and when asked if the charges against her would be dropped, Garcia said he would try, according to investigators.
One Jan. 2, Garcia arrested a 29-year-old woman on an outstanding warrant, according to the affadavit.
Garcia handcuffed her in the front and, while she was in the patrol car, put his hand inside her pants and fondled her while conducting a search, according to the affidavit. The woman told investigators she believed she would be released in exchange for not reporting the deputy’s actions.
According to the investigation, Garcia also left his post numerous times, including driving outside the city limits, while he was the only deputy patroling the Mulberry area.
Garcia was booked into Polk County Jail on charges of unlawful compensation/reward for official behavior, use/display of a firearm during a felony offense and falsifying an official record/document by a public servant.
Garcia, who refused the opportunity to resign, has been suspended pending termination procedures.
“We conduct extensive background checks on our deputies prior to hiring and training—including polygraph examinations and psychological testing,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. “Despite our best efforts, on rare occasions an employee will disappoint us and the communities we serve. When they do, we will hold them accountable for their actions.
“We will not tolerate this kind of outrageous conduct by someone sworn to uphold the law and protect our citizens. When we learned of the first allegation, we immediately initiated an investigation, sought other possible victims, and then conducted undercover surveillance. “
Garcia was hired in August 2011, according to a news release. His salary was $40,252.
“Garcia is not worthy to wear the sheriff’s office uniform and he never will again,” Judd said.