Tipster plans to sue Winter Haven PD after name published

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- A woman who provided what she thought was an anonymous tip and then saw her name published in a police report is considering suing the Winter Haven Police Department, according to The Ledger.

Lilly, O’Toole and Brown -- a Lakeland law firm -- has received a notice of intent to sue to the department on behalf of Jennifer Rice, 41, and her husband Michael, 39. She gave tips to Heartland Crime Stoppers in August 2015 believing that she would remain anonymous. Her name subsequently appeared in a police affidavit.

According to the law firm, one of the suspects -- Bernard William Roberts, 36 -- has threatened Rice via other people. Last year, Roberts was sentenced to four years in a state prison on six charges.

The cases began on Aug. 18, 2015, when two men were seen carrying backpacks while leaving the Walmart at 355 Cypress Gardens Blvd., according to police. The men were not seen with the backpacks when they entered the store.

Police posted surveillance pictures to the department's Facebook page, and contacted Rice days later to ask about information she provided to Crime Stoppers.

The next day Roberts and Ty Handley were arrested on charges unrelated to the Walmart case.

The two men were sent to the jail, and then Winter Haven police visited with the pictures from Walmart leading Roberts to identify himself and Handley.

Rice was listed as a witness in the criminal case against Roberts, which allowed him to learn that she made the call, Kent Lilly said. According to the notice from the law firm, Rice knows the inmate and thinks he is prone to use violence.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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