Bradenton, Florida- A Manatee County Sheriff's Captain, a 28-year veteran of the department, pulled a gun on a fellow deputy inside his office. Captain Ron Couch said the deputy startled him.
The internal investigation found 54-year-old Captain Ron Couch violated two counts of neglect of duty and one count of unlawful conduct.
Though no criminal charges have been filed, Captain Couch has retired.
On January 28, like other deputies, Lieutenant William Vitaioli used his electronic key fob to enter the Division three sheriff's office in Ellenton to see Captain Ron Couch.
The time was 4 pm. The Lt told investigators he saw Couch at his desk with his back to the door, and when Vitaioli announced himself, Couch: "leapt from the chair, spun around, and drew his pistol."
He stated Captain Couch, "pointed the firearm at his torso and waived it from side-to-side."
"I think he was not professional," said Laura Arache.
"It was wrong," says William Kotsifas.
"I think he reacted too quickly," says Kathleen Kotsifas.
Couch denied pointing the gun, and told investigators he had been intently working on his computer- he also raised concerns about a lack of security at the office.
Despite his defense, the investigation found no heightened threat that day at the electronically secured building.
"I feel he is under a lot of stress for some reason," said Arache of Captain Couch.
Back on that day when Couch drew his gun, the Lt. said he chose to throw his hands up in a surrendering posture instead of pulling out his own weapon.
"It could have gone off by accident and someone could have been killed," said William Kotsifas.
The investigation found Couch's actions "demonstrated carelessness, were unnecessary for his self-defense and could have created a deadly incident."
We took a look at Captain Couch's personnel file found letters of recommendation and citizen appreciation. He also received "exemplary performance" in employee evaluations from the last three years.
In 2006, however, records showed Couch served 30 days un-paid suspension for interfering with his son's arrest.
Captain Couch has since retired.
"I hope he enjoys his retirement. 28 years; it's time," said Kotsifas.
By retiring, 54-year-old Ron Couch keeps his benefits. He will retire with about 75 percent of his $97,000 salary, plus benefits.
No one with the sheriff's office would go on camera, but a spokesperson said they do not condone Couch's behavior, as it violated department policy.
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