Sanika Dange reported for WUFT-TV.
Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said Wednesday Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe was not given preferential treatment by deputies on March 21 after the single-car crash that led to Lowe’s arrest for driving under the influence.
Dashboard camera video released by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday raised those concerns, particularly due to a conversation between deputy Jessica Rowland and Lowe.
In the video, Rowland can be heard telling Lowe, “I can tell by your eyes that you’ve had a lot more than three beers.” She continues, “We can go a whole other route with that, but because of the job you have, we’re not going to.”
Darnell said during a press conference she had spoken to Rowland about the exchange.
“In my talking to her, her intention, as best she could recollect, and it’s been a couple of days now, several days now, was that she wasn’t sure what she meant by that when she said it, but she knew that it wasn’t to give him any special treatment,” Darnell said.
Darnell said she wasn’t sure where Rowland was going with her statement about taking an “other route.”
“I’m not sure why she said it or had the need to say it, but she did say it and in her mind she doesn’t know why she said it either,” Darnell said. “She certainly knew that she was going down a DUI crash investigation, she just wasn’t sure if it was going to be ASO (Alachua Sheriff’s Office) or FHP (Florida Highway Patrol).”
Darnell said the video doesn’t show deputies “scheming,” but instead shows them moving forward with a DUI and crash investigation.
“It may have been a slip of the tongue, it may have been in her mind she was intending for it to mean something else, but when you hear it, and most people hear it, it does sound questionable,” Darnell said. “I completely understand that, but their actions speak louder than what she said.”
When asked about the four hours it took for officials to administer a blood alcohol test to Lowe, Darnell said she wished the deputies had moved more quickly.
“They didn’t act, in my mind, looking back, quickly enough to notify their supervisor or to get FHP rolling so that there wasn’t as large a (gap of time),” Darnell said. “I wish it were smaller.”
Darnell said Rowland and deputy Lance Pallett, the two who responded to the crash, would sit down with their supervisor and discuss what they did well and what they could improve on in future cases.
Branden Snodgrass contributed reporting.