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Ft. Lauderdale Fla--Battalion Chief Charged with Battery

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  • Ft. Lauderdale Fla--Battalion Chief Charged with Battery

    Fort Lauderdale fire battalion chief faces battery charge

    By David Fleshler
    Staff Writer
    Posted October 4 2003

    A Fort Lauderdale fire battalion chief was charged with misdemeanor battery Friday after driving his official vehicle to the Pure Platinum strip club on Federal Highway, arguing with parking lot valets and assaulting a club employee who refused to let him in, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office report.

    Battalion Chief James Heller also threatened to have the club shut down, flashing his badge and yelling repeatedly that he was fire chief of Fort Lauderdale, witnesses said, according to the report. After Heller called for help on his fire department radio, fire and police vehicles converged on the club. He was the only one charged.


    Acting City Manager Bud Bentley said the city has opened an investigation and that it appears Heller may have violated city policy for inappropriate use of a city car -- a red Chevrolet Lumina with city plates -- and conduct unbecoming a fire official.

    Reached at work, Heller said, "I have no comment." But in an interview with a sheriff's deputy, he said he was the one assaulted -- by three bouncers as he walked toward the entrance.

    Fire Chief Otis Latin promised the city would take appropriate disciplinary action if warranted.

    But he said Heller was "a very good employee, and he does a good job."

    The Sheriff's Office report gives the following account, based on interviews with witnesses:

    Heller, 46, arrived at the club, which is in Oakland Park, just after midnight Friday. As he left the car, he threw a beer bottle against the wall of the club. When parking lot attendants told him he couldn't park in the valet lot, he became angry and used an obscenity.

    Hearing of a disturbance outside, front-floor host Michael Nunn came outside and told Heller his business wasn't wanted. At this, Heller became angry and said he was fire chief of Fort Lauderdale and he could go inside if he wanted. He flashed a badge and tried to walk past Nunn.

    Nunn stood in his path with his hands up, but without making any threatening gestures. Heller pushed him until they were just inside the doorway. And when Nunn finally grabbed him and tried to force him out, Heller began punching him. Nunn pushed him outside and Heller collapsed to the ground. He then yelled into his radio that he needed help.

    A club employee and a patron confirmed Nunn's account. One witness said she saw the fire official punch Nunn in the neck with his black fire radio. Nunn was not injured.

    Heller was taken to Broward General Medical Center after complaining of back pain. Interviewed at the hospital by sheriff's Deputy Charles Dunn, Heller gave a different account. After parking, as he walked toward the club, three bouncers grabbed him and "body-slammed" him in front of the club. He denied smashing a beer bottle.

    Asked whether he wanted to press charges, Heller said he would "handle the matter himself," according to the report.

    "Due to the tone the subject had used when making that comment, I asked him if by handling it he meant in some legal manner such as a lawsuit or something of that matter," the deputy wrote in his report. "He advised me that I could take his comment any way I wanted."

    The deputy then told Heller he would have to contact the state attorney if he wanted to press charges.

    "I then handed him a card with instructions and locations for the State Attorney's Office in the area," Dunn wrote. "Heller took the card and crumbled it up in front of me."

    David Fleshler can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4535.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  • #2
    Cap, is there any chance that alcohol was involved in this incident?
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

    Comment


    • #3
      George, do you think there's any chance it wasn't?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
        Cap, is there any chance that alcohol was involved in this incident?
        Total sarcasm.
        PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

        Comment


        • #5
          This brings to mind a saying I saw on a hat once ........ "Instant A-Hole ........ just add alcohol"

          It's too bad how you can take some of the nicest people in the world, give them a few drinks and all their sense of judgement and people skills go right out the window.
          To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.

          IACOJ-WOT proud

          GO WHITE SOX!!!!!

          Comment


          • #6
            How come everywhere our friend (formerly from the nations capital) goes the fire department seems to be in turmoil....??

            Geroge......Alcohol??? hmmm..I thought the beer bottle against the wall thing was a new way to recycle!
            09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
            ------------------------------
            IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
            "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
            BMI Investigator
            ------------------------------
            The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

            Comment

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