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Monday, November 7, 2011

Police Department Management Debacle

Boynton Beach fires police officer, its sixth to face legal troubles this year
The Palm Beach Post by Julius Whigham II - November 4, 2011

BOYNTON BEACH, FL — A city police officer accused of using unnecessary force has been fired from the department for the second time in the past four years. Officer David Coffey was dismissed Oct. 24 after an internal affairs investigation determined he slammed a restaurant patron into a video-game console without ever trying to handcuff him while making an arrest Jan. 16 . Coffey's latest dismissal comes while the 160-member department is under scrutiny after the arrests of five other officers this year. On Tuesday, with Police Chief Matthew Immler in attendance, city commissioners said they will review how Boynton Beach hires and supervises its police officers. According to the internal affairs report, Coffey responded to a disturbance at the Carolina Ale House on North Congress Avenue and arrested a patron, Floyd Selleck, on charges of obstruction of justice and resisting arrest without violence. Coffey, who will turn 31 Saturday, wrote that Selleck was "highly intoxicated" and approached a fellow officer while the officer was escorting another patron out of the bar. Selleck, however, filed a complaint Feb. 1, alleging that Coffey used unnecessary force. Selleck alleged that he had been talking with another officer after an altercation at the restaurant when Coffey grabbed him, threw him to the ground and slammed him into the machine . Witnesses, including three off-duty West Palm Beach Police officers, indicated that Coffey used excessive force. It was unclear this evening whether Coffey would fight the city's decision. It is the second time that the department has fired Coffey. The first was in 2007 after an investigation found that he had improperly used a Taser on a suspected drunk driver who was being kept in a holding cell. An arbitrator later determined that Coffey could regain his job, and he was rehired in December 2008. Of the five officers who have been arrested this year, one other was fired. Former officer David Britto was terminated after he fled to Brazil while awaiting trial for charges of trafficking methamphetamine. Three others - Michael Mulcahy, Alex Lindsey and Kenneth Magielski - have been placed on administrative duty after their arrests on charges ranging from DUI to official misconduct. Former officer Michael Arco resigned after being charged with official misconduct and giving false information. Coffey is also facing charges stemming from an incident involving a fellow police officer in April. He was charged with improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon and culpable negligence. Boynton police officer Rachel Loy accused Coffey of sneaking up behind her and activating his department-issued Taser after placing inches behind her ear. Coffey is scheduled to face a case disposition hearing for those charges on Friday morning. Staff Writer Cynthia Roldan contributed to this report

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