Deputy Brian Britt, 45, was terminated Monday after 17 years with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department after what is being called “a betrayal of his oath.” An investigation into Britt revealed a lack of integrity and respect for the badge when he offered to pay an 18-year-old woman he had recently arrested and her friend to come to his home while his 11-year-old daughter was asleep.
“It just shows an absolute, 100 percent lack of character, lack of values, terrible decision-making,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said, “and to put your child in that type of a situation is just totally reprehensible.”
According to the investigation, Britt arrested the woman in December of 2016 after being called out to a home in Oldsmar for a domestic battery situation. The unnamed woman answered the door in just a towel and invited Britt into the home while she went to fetch her identification. While in the home, Britt happened to open a bathroom door and saw the teen’s 21-year-old friend in the shower naked.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the following sequence of events:
He arrested the woman, then took her to a park to wait for a van to take her to the jail. During the 20-to-30 minute wait, the investigation says, Britt removed the woman’s handcuffs and engaged in “flirtatious conversation.” He told her his financial status and where he lived, and she told him she worked as a dancer at an adult club.
While she was in jail, the woman called on a recorded line the friend Britt had seen in the shower and said he was trying to flirt with her. She then passed on a message from Britt: “Tell your home girl again I’m sorry for seeing her. I mean, I’m sorry for opening the bathroom and looking at her. I didn’t mean to.”
She added that he asked where she worked, and if her friend worked there as well, and said he wanted to come see her, according to the investigation.
Within moments of the woman’s release from jail the next day, Britt called her on his agency-issued phone. He told investigators he felt that “she was probably arrested for something that didn’t occur” and was “sympathetic to her situation.” He also said he texted her using his personal cellphone during the next seven to 10 days after her release.
During one conversation, he asked the woman if she trusted police, then invited her up to come to his house for an “encounter,” the investigation says. She asked Britt about the purpose of the visit and said her time wasn’t free. She added that she was with the friend he had seen in the shower.
“She’s hot too,” he wrote. “Bring her.”
He said the purpose of the visit was for “conversation” and that he’d pay them $100 each for a one-hour visit.
The women traveled from St. Petersburg to his home in Pasco County the same day. When they arrived, both women showed signs of impairment, Britt told investigators. He was also impaired, having consumed about 12 shots of tequila, he said.
Inside, Britt had dimmed the lights and lit candles. During their conversation, the woman he had arrested said she engages in “fetishes” for money. She referred to Britt as one of her clients.
Britt started rubbing the woman’s thigh, according to the investigation. She got angry, saying the contact went beyond the conversation they had agreed on.
He told her he wasn’t going to pay them for just conversation.
Instead, he put gas in their car from a can in his garage and sent them on their way.
During the event, Britt’s daughter was asleep in the home.
The department found out about Britt’s actions when the woman told another officer what happened and that deputy reported it up the chain of command. An internal investigation ensued and once in the cross hairs, Britt’s excuse was that he was “drinking, depressed and wanted ‘interaction” Britt acknowledged his error in judgement saying that he made a crucial and regretful error in judgment.
The incident brings to light Britt’s questionable past with patterns of deviant behavior. In the past, Britt had been served a seven-day unpaid suspension for viewing pornographic material on his department computer while off-duty. Britt, when assigned to judicial operations, also received a three-day suspension after flexing his pectoral muscles to entertain a jury during a trial.
There were other allegations lobbed against Britt but according to Gualtieri those claims were unsubstantiated meaning there wasn’t enough evidence to prove or disprove the allegations.