St. Pete PD officers fired after investigations

St. Petersburg, FL -- You might think Laquanda Everett would be furious with St. Petersburg police after one of their officers shot her 17-year-old son Quade leaving him brain damaged back in December. Instead, she says she's grateful the incident was investigated.

Everett's faith in the system was restored this week when a police review board found the officer involved in her son's shooting, a rookie cop named Brian Fernandez, would be fired.

"It shows the St. Petersburg police are above board," she said, "that they don't try to sweep it under the rug."

The shooting review board found problems with Fernandez's claim that Everett, who was suspected of driving a stolen pick-up truck, tried to run him over. Fernandez said he had opened fire in self-defense, but based upon his description, those bullets would've hit the front windshield. Instead, investigators found the bullet holes were in either the side of the truck, or had gone through the back window which was shattered.

They concluded that Fernandez had lied.

Interim police Chief Dave DeKay says Fernandez was still on probation, having served only six months on the force at the time of the shooting.

At 17, Everett already had an extensive police record, but DeKay says rules need to be followed in order to preserve the public's trust.

"We run into bad people all the time," said Chief DeKay, adding the rules are the same regardless.

Chief DeKay also fired Detective Bartholomew Varacchi. The board investigated a complaint against Varacchi, 45, and concluded the officer had used excessive force last June, kicking a man who was bound in handcuffs.

Fernandez cannot appeal his firing since he was on probation, but officials say Varacchi has already indicated he will try to get his job back.


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