Trooper Gate

A traffic stop on I-10 cost Trooper Charles Swindle his job, behind the wheel, Jacksonville lawmaker Charles McBurney.

Once the Trooper determined McBurney was a legislator, he decided to cut him a break. The dashboard cam even records the trooper clearing the deal with his Sergeant.

Legislator McBurney accepted the tickets on the side of the road then complained to the top trooper.

"I simply wrote the letter to let the Florida Highway Patrol know that I felt that was inappropriate," said Rep. McBurney.

Wednesday, the six year FHP veteran was on the witness stand fighting for his job back. Under oath he testified there was an unwritten rule to give lawmakers breaks.

When asked what the policy was, Charles Swindle asked "We're always told to be lenient on legislators."

His attorney produced a long list of legislators who speed was reduced or who were cited for not having insurance.

The trooper isn't being fired for letting a lawmaker go; he's being fired for falsifying the charge.

"He issued citations for traffic offenses that drivers did not commit," said Sandra Coulter.

And we asked Swindle what he was fighting so hard to get his job back.

"To clear my name," said Swindle.

The decision on whether Swindle gets his job back is likely 60 days away.

More than a half dozen law enforcement officials were on the witness for giving a state lawmaker a break.

Rep. Charles McBurney was stopped for going 87 in a 70. Trooper Swindle was fired for issuing him a 10 dollar failure to produce insurance citation.

50 year law enforcement veteran, Leon County Larry Campbell was on the witness list, but not allowed to testify.

He says lawmakers and other law enforcement officials have received deferential treatment his entire career.

"I think that the trooper should have been allowed to exercise his discretion. If he didn't feel the gentleman deserved a ticket, he shouldn't have given him one. It's not like grand theft auto or armed robbery," said Larry Campbell.

The attorney for Swindle produced the names of more than a dozen lawmakers who got special treatment.


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