Gruesome Corruption: North Port Police Department, Florida



North Port, Florida – Where to begin… From pre-planning to maul a suicidal teenager’s face with a K-9 unit service animal, to hiding spying devices from the courts, the North Port Police Department has joined the ranks of numerous other departments across the nation as particularly corrupt. And as can be expected, little has been done about it.

Between 2010 and 2014, North Port police dogs bit at least 34 people, including juveniles, which according to reports, was “more than the combined number of bites reported by the police canine units of neighboring municipalities Sarasota, Bradenton, Palmetto, Venice and Punta Gorda during the same period.” In an investigation by the Sarasota, Florida based daily newspaper, Herald-Tribune, it was found that between 2010 and 2014, 37 percent of apprehensions made by the police canine unit in North Port ended in attacks, exceeding the national limit of 30 percent.


A doctor used 34 stitches to close the bite wounds a North Port police dog opened on Danielle Drake's face. Police Chief Kevin Vespia later told the North Port Sun newspaper the young woman had been "nipped." Provided Photo by Danielle Drake
A doctor used 34 stitches to close the bite wounds a North Port police dog opened on Danielle Drake’s face. Police Chief Kevin Vespia later told the North Port Sun newspaper the young woman had been “nipped.”
Provided Photo by Danielle Drake


North Port Police Chief, Kevin Vespia, refused to talk to the media about the findings, and instead had the department issue a written statement that declared their canine unit has “acted in accordance within the law and in keeping with best practices.” This statement holds little value when presented with the case of Justin Lemay, a teenager who was mauled by a police dog in a pre-planned attack.

In 2012, Lemay’s mother, fearful her son was suicidal, called North Port police after her daughter found a noose in the garage. Lemay’s mother had hoped the police would prevent her son from hurting himself, but instead, they attacked the teen with their service animal before even speaking to him.

Lemay was hiding in a trash can when officers entered the home, and from there he recounts what happened next:

I remember hitting the ground on my hands to brace myself from falling, and I looked up at them, and I went to say ‘OK, OK,’ and the guy sicced the dog on me as soon as I started to talk. I remember [the dog’s] mouth coming toward me and latching onto my face. He literally drug me out of the trash can.”


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Incriminating texts between the involved officers, Keith Bush and Michael Dietz, showed that before even arriving to the scene, Bush texted to Dietz, “COME GET UR BITE.” Minutes later, Bush messaged again, “IM GONNA TAKE UR BITE IF U DONT HURRY UP.”

After the altercation, fellow officer, William Carter, texted “CONGRATS” to Dietz on his first bite with the unit while Lemay was on his way to the hospital. Another fellow officer named Brandon McHale texted Bush to ask about the boy’s injuries, displaying no concern for the teen:

“YOUR BITE OR (Dietz’s)?” McHale asked.

“I LET (Dietz) HAVE IT,” Bush replied.


“BAD,” Bush responded, “FACE AND BACK.”

“SKIN GRAFT BAD?” McHale asked.




Police Chief Vespia found the officer’s actions were in accordance with the law, despite the texts or the fact it was in direct violation of their own policies which state that canine units are not to engage “the mentally disturbed if no other crime is involved,” and that “extra care should be taken and alternatives to the deployment of a canine should be considered in the case of juvenile suspects.”

Three years later (2015) officer Dietz was arrested for domestic battery. He resigned soon after.

The Police Department’s K-9 Unit has faced three lawsuits for brutality since 2014, one of which involved yet another teenager whose family reached a settlement with the department in December.

In another investigation by the Herald-Tribune titled “A Legacy of Leniency,” it was found that 19 North Port officers had been investigated three or more times over an 18-year period, however as the agency’s internal affairs data are kept in written log, and details involving officer discipline or outcome are missing, this statistic is most likely inaccurate. Just a few of the known crimes committed by officers include:


Drug Abuse: Officer Sean Butcher was allowed to resign after it was found he was “doctor shopping” by filling multiple prescriptions for the same ailment through various doctors. The incident was never reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.


Breaking and Entering: Officers John McKinney and Todd Choiniere broke into a man’s home without a warrant by cutting his screen to arrest him because of a complaint about loud music. Choiniere had already been fired for handcuffing his wife and throwing her in a pool during a domestic fight.


False Imprisonment and Sexual Battery: Officers Melanie Turner and Ricky Urbina handcuffed a woman at a party that was attended by other officers, and sexually battered her. Urbina shot and killed himself before arrest, and Turner (a mother of two) was arrested without incident. Turner appears to have a history of mental instability, and had previously been investigated five times in connection with six other allegations, including handcuffing her roommate. After the scandal, other people came forward with stories about wild parties thrown by North Port officers, including a former police officer who attested that the parties often got out of hand.


The list goes on. One officer wrote bad checks to his landlord and then threatened the man, saying that as a police officer, his landlord should not to do “anything to make life tough” on him. Another officer sent a picture of his genitals to undercover detectives who were working a sting, and Officer J.W. Triplett resigned after showing fellow officers a video of a woman exposing her breasts on police camera. Only 18 percent of the investigations against officers resulted in suspension or firing.

In 2014 it was reported by the ACLU that the North Port Police Department and the Sarasota Police Department had been implementing the use of cell site simulators, or “stingrays,” designed to trick cellphones into reporting their locations, and they were “deliberately concealing the use of stingrays in court documents submitted to judges in criminal investigations.” This information was obtained by the ACLU of Florida through a set of internal police emails.




By concealing the fact they were using stingrays, police deprived defendants of their right to challenge unconstitutional surveillance, and it kept the public ignorant about invasive monitoring by local law enforcement.

Much of the corruption in this department has happened under Police Chief Vespia’s watch, for which he’s received quite a bit of criticism (browse through some of the provided sources), and there are plenty of indications he isn’t well received in the community. And yet, he’s working on 18-years with the department.


In related news: Survey shows low morale at North Port Police Department


In regards to the sexual battery case involving Melanie Turner and Ricky Urbina, Vespia made this statement:

I will not stand here and make excuses for the actions of these few officers who violated our policy and the public trust, as they were wrong and they know they acted inappropriately.

However, I will defend the majority of employees within the North Port Police Department who continually do the right thing each and every day.

I ask the citizens to please not judge the many great employees we have here in the department based on the actions of a few.”


Police deal with citizens on a daily basis, and the actions of a few bad cops can have tremendous, life-altering effects on numerous people in their communities. What happens when you have a department that’s full of them? Some of the “officers” named above are still active and loose on the streets of North Port.


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    • We are all their cash cow slaves; people…. Wake up. We even PAY their salaries…. They ALL know this and laugh, they drink, they drive but know they are above our laws and enjoy the power…. Umm; wake up puppets and get them fired..?

  1. So corrupt everyone is to scared to post anything… All you have to do is get pulled over a couple times after 9pm and you will find out how corrupt they are..

    • My boyfriend has been pulled over a few times way after nine for driving without a license and we have never had an issue. They were pretty nice and allowed him to call me to come get my car and him.. Never an issue.

    • Absolutely true !!!!! Had my jeep destroyed twice by two of the cops in the first pic !!!!!!! I support law enforcement but port Charlotte and north port police need a good cleansing !!!!

    • Stop being scared.. Get educated to the corrupt system and go to the investigators beyond the corrupt obey making states… Start petitions to get these cops fired. WE pay their salaries … Stop the useless writing here and get educated.

      Protect and serve….? Lolololololo. A joke!

      • Yet I am reading the article and see there are many questions and believe there is more to the story than the reporter is stating. Why was the adult in the trash can in the first place? Did he have his hands shown? Did he obey the officers requests to get out of the trash can? Too many questions for me to judge. And it’s sad that most of the peoples posts don’t see that.

  2. The issues revealed in this article are only the tip of the iceberg. The corruption is rampant. Morale is at it’s lowest point. Good officers are leaving the force at lightening speed. The NPPD police chief has fudged the truth on so many occasions it’s difficult to keep track. The City Manager and City Commission is doing nothing to stop the behavior that is destroying our police department and our City. Please look deeper.

    • I agree whole heartily! There is a reason these officers are being targeted. Is it because of them or the administration? Look deeper into the Chief, Captains, City Manager and Shall I say our Commission. The employees seem scared to death to do anything wrong or will be punished because of administration and higher not backing them. There are bad officers, there are corrupt government, there are also useless entitled people that think they are owed for committing a crime and get caught so they sue. Because we don’t like it doesn’t mean there isn’t more to the story or that the people aren’t telling the whole truth. Shame on all of the above.

  3. So calling the cops most of the time is just a huge mistake. This was a kid who needed mental hel. Not some damn dog biting him. Wth were they thinking? They were wrong period. Let their dog bite their own kids.

    • seems to me the mother could not control her kid and called police then wasn’t happy with the result in which she couldn’t handle. That is sad to say the least. Let’s blame someone else for our own lack of knowing how to handle our children. That is what it looks like and now I am judging. That is what the press does. Makes us judge without the full details.

      • If simply google it you will find there was no issue with the kid, she was just worried he would commit suicide bc he was depressed and sitting in a garbage can. They exchanged msgs clearly showing their intent then arrived and immediately sicced the dog at him, without even turning on the light. How can you twist their around and blame the kid and mother without even bothering to do the least bit of research.. These cops are despicable and will get theirs in hell. Shame on the Chief for allowing all of this to happen.

  4. NPPD is corrupt all the way around. I personally jave seen it happen and have had multiple times were i was set up by a few officers. And they only mention a few officers that are corrupt. Theres more such as officer nelson who has set me up 3 or four times.

  5. They raided my house based on a lie called into them with a fishing expedition search warrant giving them the right to look threw whatever they wanted. I am a law abiding citizen . the found nothing because there was nothing to find but the broke Federal LAW BY FORCING EVERYONE OUT OF THE HOUSE BY FORCE SO THEY COULD BE THE ONLY ONES IN MY HOME I ARGUED BUY DET. MARY —-;;;; TO ME THAT THE WAY THEY DO IT HER REALLY EVEN ENTERING A SAFE BOX, WITHOUT A SEPERATE WARRENT AND A LOCKED BOX BY BREAKING IT TO GET INTO IT

    • I have a similar story as well. It was horrible and they ended up arresting me for something they knew good and well I didn’t do. Charges dropped of course, but it still affects me as while convictions can be expunged, bogus charges cannot. I had to move my family out of town for 3 years to get away from the constant harassment. I’m back now and nervous as can be. Sad because I have been an advocate of police with many officers in my family until my incident.

    • An honorable judge signs the search warrant so the police must of had something on you for a judge to give approval to search your house. Do you hang with the wrong crowd that made you a “target”?

  6. When I lived in North Port the cops were just aweful. Tried to enforce their own made up laws thru fear and Intimidation. I somehow slipped by them and was never violated in the way i witnessed others being treated. Mistreated. broken things need to be fixed, if repair is not possible then replace. Its that simple.

  7. This is why citizens lose respect for the authority of the police. Put cameras on every officer. You’ll see a radical change in the dapartment. Time for the chief to go…for the good of the department. He’s already proved he can not reign in his staff. Get your golden parachute (I’m sure you’ve got,one) and your pension and scram!

  8. I only have one ticket in my whole life and it came from a NP cop. I’m a very good defensive driver, and I DO NOT speed. The car in front of me was speeding to beat out stop light. When I merged on the road the cop thought his radar reading was for my vehicle (which the cop’s car was 300 yards or so in front of me). I explained to him that it was the car in front of mine that sped up to beat the light. He didn’t want to hear it, and just ticketed me. I tried to fight it in court, but every single person (about 50) lost to the corrupted judge. I try not to drive through NP as much as possible. Don’t want another unjustly ticket!

  9. Venice is no better ANON, Not at all- I had them ass holes pull over to take my info while i was walking home 7 times in a 2 month period and they gave NO indication why at all- I had started to grow a small beard and I had to walk pass the old house of the 9/11 suspects to get home each time- along with that I was learning about the Illuminati and super rich too so I was already on the harassment list
    -sigh- The Cops in C-Burg just ignore me unless I tell them to do something… they don’t know what I have seen >:-)

    ~|*Target Acquired*|~

  10. It’s interesting. The worst “Hall of Fame” I have ever seen was in North Port, Florida.
    The same town this story is from also houses a “Police Hall of Fame”.

    I’m surprised there are that many dog attacks, because North Port is a sleepy little retirement town.

    • You are an idiot. Maybe they should be blamed for not knowing that Michael King was a monster. Or that he would try and kidnap someone. You obviously were not there to see how hard they worked to find her and what kind of emotional impact it had when their efforts failed. Walk in someone else’s shoes before you speak for them.

      • From the 911 operator 2 the police they did drop the ball she was able to call and give locations from the car along with other drivers that were trying to follow him That seen her… that’s where her husband Filed a lawsuit for wrongful death and he won

    • I believe Charlotte County failed Denise and her husband sued CHarlotte County and won. That does not have anything to do with North Port Police. Get your facts straight first please.

  11. This goes back many years as well. Everyone knows of an officer called “Nick at night” who used to be notorious for his DUI arrests on the weekends which would cause people to alter their plans so they wouldn’t be harassed in North Port. Bet he’s in the hall of fame!! As for the dog biting, they should all be mauled themselves for doing something so Haines to a child!!! Let alone a mentally challenged one!! DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR THAT MUST COME WITH CONSEQUENCES!!!

    • There was one or two good ones
      Unfortunately one has passed this last November
      always felt protected knowing he was there. .RIP..OFFICER GONTHIER#

    • These counties make “their” money from not drunk and drunk DUI arrests, traffic violations. P e r I o d everybody. Wasting time with all the corrupt stories. These cops,judges, lawyers, DA’s, blah, blah, blah ALL work together o TAKE your money, our money, etc…..they know it, we know it and the elite, power abusers are everywhere, in every state and the make ALL their money from the good, slaves “we citizens” who will pay their disgusting fees, to keep ourselves out of jail for owing absolutely nothing worth going to jail for. Everyone who is not a criminal, who is not a drunk or druggie and got stopped by a cop who is a known power abuser such as; Trooper Melvin Arthur in Sarafota and Venice, fl should file lawsuits and petitions to Get all corrupt, profiling cops OFF our PAYROLL… They go home and laugh, justify and break the same laws they hand out to us…. A JOKE and disgusting.

    • But Nick at Night was doing his job in arresting people drinking. This law is not new, you drink and drive, you go to jail. I would not want my family to get killed by a drunk driver so good for him. People think they are above the law all the time. How many of you drink and drive? Also, please get the full story not just pieces of this “child’s” story as I think the reporter has done before you threaten people with eye for an eye.

  12. I grew up there and know officer McHale and his family personally as well as several other current and former NPPD members.

    I’m deeply saddened by what has been reported here. I always knew the np cops were a little out of control but always thought the guys I knew were some of the good ones.

    If this report is accurate then it’ll definitely be hard for me to maintain that belief.

    I’m sincerely hoping that something has been taken out of context or has been reported inaccurately.

  13. Not just the Police Department the entire Government . How much TAX PAYER money was spent on legal fees last year ?
    What baffles me is they are deeply concerned when a home owner installs their own hot water heater

    • It is too easy to sue someone these days. The people know that the City just wants to pay them off instead of paying all the legal fees. That is the problem with our City Attorney. We pay him GOOD money to fight for what is right and he just pays them off because he doesn’t know his job and the law! That’s a person that needs to be looked at!

  14. North Port police pulled me over for high bean lights I ended up in jail they lied said I had drugs in my car took my car for months for no reason had to pay over 700$ to get car back I never did drugs before but they planted that drug in my car on top of that they was yelling giving each other high five saying this my car cause they lied about the crack a piece of crack they lied they found in my car and to be sworn in as a officer you don’t deserve the badge Christopher Clark and the blond head in the white Magnum car. I don’t care if it was withold both of you has to live with that lie now I’m afraid to go to north port knowing with you out there I’ll get pulled for no reason and y’all will plant drugs in my car again that’s what y’all do I know both of you offices has gotten away with these crimes lying on people’s saying they had drugs in their car and they never did and both of y’all will keep on lying

    • It is too easy to sue someone these days. The people know that the City just wants to pay them off instead of paying all the legal fees. That is the problem with our City Attorney. We pay him GOOD money to fight for what is right and he just pays them off because he doesn’t know his job and the law! That’s a person that needs to be looked at!

  15. The officer with the dark shades will plant drugs on you he is one of the officers that lied on me and anyone else if he stop you you will have a drug case

  16. My son Miguel Havens, 22 yrs old died on August 2,2012, he had an extremely crappy investigation, still to this day I don’t truly know what happened to my son, he had a 2 year little girl, 3 year old little boy, and a new baby boy born the day before his funeral, I want answers but it seems I’ll never get them and so as far as I’m concerned, this police department is very corrupt

    • I am so sorry your son died! No parent should go through the pain of burying their child. My child committed suicide and I am left with the guilt of not noticing all the signs were there. Alcohol, drug use, bad influences she was around and so on. It took a long time and the Detective helped me so it is a shame they could not help you.

  17. First time I was ever pulled over for running a stop sign, cop followed me to the gas station. I hadn’t seen the stop sign because it was aside a tree on a side road after Biscayne. He asked if I knew what I had been pulled over for and I politely told him no. I answered all his questions nicely. I had been on my way to my very first job orientation and explained to him I was nervous. It was also my first time being pulled over. He called over back up, asked if I was under the influence, and spent half an hour searching throughout my car with his back-up. There was three cop cars surrounding me at the end.

    He had no manners, no respect, and at the end after all my cooperation gave me a ticket. Be careful if you unknowingly run a stop sign. I spent an hour at the gas station, in the sun, was late to my orientation, and delayed to class in the evening. I’m not one to insult people.

    I’ll never forget the fat pig.

  18. The cutting the screen was my fathers house. I heard the deposition statements from both officers. Both of them couldn’t call if they heard music when they were there. They also both stated that they were talking to my father thru the screen door and were not yelling. Come to find out, the music was coming from a house a few houses down and across the street.

  19. I have witnessed some strange NPPD behavior. An arrest was being made in front of my house and they had the suspect in the squad car. As this arrest went down, several times we heard the police involved yelling loudly at the suspect to “shut the F*** up.” Did they think no one could hear this? Only like everyone including children.

    There was a brush fire a couple streets away. As we walked to the end of our street to see how bad or if we should evacuate, we were told nothing and literally screamed at to go back to our house. Another officer was now on my street and when I asked if we needed to be concerned, he ignored me…. I asked him two more times thinking maybe he didn’t hear me and finally very angrily he asked me where I live like he was going to arrest me if I bothered him again.

    Another time I had to call in a theft report, the officer shows up and tells me their must be some mistake and takes no report?!?!?

    I see they hired a much needed public relations person who writes witty and grand reviews on their Facebook page, now they need to work on their people skills.

  20. Trooper Melvin Arthur has been hunting blondes, arresting them for DUI because he can and they are not drunk, driving erratically, etc. since 2012 til present. he has been sued, is still being sued and we all should know the the FHP protect this power abuser, the judges and all in the Judicial system not only deny any of HIS past false arrests of blondes and his high percent of woman arrests, his temper that starts when he arrests a women and editing the videos of some stops that show his aggressive behavior. Saradota County knows of his behavior and will NOT fire him. The woman anywhere near him will become a VICTIM and will spend much money and time to prove this Trooper is a profiler allowed to hunt woman. Sarasota county makes 5
    ,million dollars per year with DUI not drunk arrests and possession arrests and it is their cash cow for their fat pockets. This is not law being just this is them taking good citizens life and money for whatever the County wants. Traffic violations could put you in jail, j walking and just speaking your constitutional rights. Until all this is known it will continue. Stand up against Corrupt Sarasota and Florida. Knowing your rights is nothing now; having the money to fight is needed.

  21. Until itizens come together and protest all this corruption and unjust justice that these cops hand down to good citizens – espestally known profiler trooper Melvin Arthur stopping blonde women, ALL will continue and they all know it and laugh about it… ! Another money making day for them. When you have to write about your unjust story you KNOW how pathetic it is to live in the USA and our Constitution is being twisted, ignored and stepped on by the people we PAY to uphold it…. Wake up everyone and SEE the elite power abusers and DO get something going…!

    • Haha! You are funny! Please understand with all respect that your words should be ignored. Who makes these laws? The president? The Police are made to uphold it whether you like it or not and whether they like it or not. The elite power abbusers would be you who thinks they are above the laws and standards. Abide the law and you willl have problems. I respect all people, respect the law, and respect myself therefore I have never had a problem. You have a problem because you don’t respect yourself or others.

  22. I was a neighboring ccso deputy and can attest that there’s a lot of wikd partying, drinking (and driving) and sleeping around going on off duty. I know McHale from this article, started REAL young and green working under scum like Patrick, the Sgt who refused to arrest a CCSO officer for rape and domestic battery and then broke into anther cops house on a supposed welfare check… He busted into this off duty female cops house to find her reading a book and no danger to herself but he’d broken in with a pocket knife and INSISTED he was going to baker act her bc she was pissed he’d refused to arrest the cop who raped and beat her up! There’s a lot of wild partying heavy drinkers and they get rowdy. None of this surprises me considering how many times I told then I would arrest then id I ever caught then drinking. But they were always off when I was.

  23. If you are ever subject to serious, criminal-level police abuses (fabricating evidence, beatings, threats or intimidation), immediately file a complaint with the Civil Rights division of our local field office of the FBI.

    Trust me. They will respond, they DO investigate and cops ARE charged in Federal court and sent to prison for doing that sort of thing and for as often as it happens, it rarely makes the news. The investigations take a long time but if they’ve done it to you, they will get caught doing it again.

  24. I’m not going into details but Dietz was the officer that unlawfully pulled me over, searched my vehicle, and then lied on the report and then lied in court. I support police officers but North Port PD aren’t a respectable department, they’re nothing more than thugs with badges..

  25. I remember a while back me and my ex were holding hands and laughing with eachother as we left the bank. A cop can’t remember his name was parked outside and said whats so funny you laughing at me. We both were shocked because we had no clue he was there let alone about him! Then i said no we are laughing with eachother about a joke he was holding my red purse wearing blue i said you match for memorial day….cop said well i never gave you permission to laugh i was like is this cop serious right now? So i said last time i checked its not a crime to laugh and be happy…so cop read our plates and said i’ll see u around and it wont be so funny! So i made a police report but it went nowhere. I didnt even get a follow up from that incident!

  26. Law enforcement is the only career in which being a liar is considered an asset. “Protect and serve” is long gone. “Collect and confiscate” is what it’s all about. Money, money, money!!!

    • The police in Port Charlotte are nothing but a bunch of wife beating lying cheating thieving criminals.They are worse than the people they arrest…


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