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Police chiefs, city manager under scrutiny from police video | News

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Police chiefs, city manager under scrutiny from police video

New Port Richey, FL -- Did Port Richey's city manager get special treatment during a run-in with police a little over two weeks ago?

Details of the investigation have the chiefs at two Pasco police departments back-pedaling.

Tom O'Neill retired as a city manager in New Port Richey and has been city manager in Port Richey for about two years now -- so on the night of July 13, it didn't take long for officers to realize who they were dealing with.

How it was handled from that point is what's now at question.

The report may have said case "closed", but after seeing dash-cam video of Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill, the chief of police in New Port Richey is re-opening the case.

"I certainly want to look through, view that, and I've had an opportunity to speak with the officer," said New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart.

So many discrepancies could make it appear there was favoritism, if not a cover-up.

The first incident report listed the case as a traffic stop. The final report -- a welfare check.

"There was no traffic stop. Officer Phillips did not pull over that vehicle," said Chief Bogart.

O'Neill's vehicle sat idling in the middle of the road in neutral.

In the video, officers carry O'Neill from his SUV as he repeatedly states, "I'm fine".

Officer Phillips reported O'Neill had, "watery, blood-shot eyes, a dazed expression, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol."

Yet O'Neill was never given a field sobriety test.

"He's too dazed," said the officer -- to even respond.

There's more.

The Port Richey's Chief of Police Dave Brown has said O'Neill is his friend, and therefore took it upon himself to personally respond to the scene that night after being informed of the incident.

"It looks bad, and I agree with that. It does look bad," admitted Brown.

But Chief Brown said he never pressured anyone. He admitted he personally told the officer O'Neill was on medication and conceded that may have affected the course of the investigation but not the outcome.

"I don't believe I influenced his report," he said.

A Port Richey police officer then drove O'Neill's car -- not to an impound lot -- but his private home.

O'Neill was taken to Northbay Hospital where Chief Brown himself then picked up the 59-year-old city manager a few hours later, and drove him back to his house.

O'Neill told 10 News by phone that he has a medical condition. He declined to say whether he'd been drinking the night of July 13.

Records show he has a previous DUI charge dating back to 1996.

The details of his condition and the medications he takes "are between him and his doctor," said O'Neill.

But after viewing the video, the state attorney's office may disagree.

Two sources, one within each police department, told 10 news blood was drawn during O'Neill's hospital stay and that the results showed a significant blood alcohol content.

There were also rumors O'Neill would be resigning, but he has said it's his intention to be back at work on Tuesday.

Follow 10 News Reporter Eric Glasser on twitter @ericglassertv


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