MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Detention Deputy was arrested Tuesday following an investigation into a road rage incident.
Police said Jatavi Wendall Lee, 35, of Miami, was charged with reckless driving and obstructing a highway on March 29.
Authorities said Lee was ordered to turn in his badge, uniform and all other Sheriff’s Office property and was booked into jail Tuesday morning.
The arrest took place after a motorist came forward to the Sheriff’s Office Upper Keys Substation on Plantation Key with dash-camera footage he had taken.
The motorist said he was southbound on U.S. 1 when he saw a black Chevrolet car traveling at a high rate of speed approaching the entrance to Gilbert’s Resort, on the Overseas Highway.
Here is what Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies said led to Lee’s arrest:
“The black car passed traffic while illegally using this exit lane as a passing lane at a high rate of speed. The black car then made an abrupt turn back onto U.S. 1 causing the motorist with the dash-camera on his Toyota to slam on his brakes in order to avoid a collision. The black car then passed a white Ford F-150 pickup truck on the left, nearly hitting the concrete barrier. Once the black car was in front of the Ford pickup truck, the black car slammed on it brakes which caused myriad other cars behind it — including the driver of the Toyota who captured this on his dash-camera — to also brake hard in order to avoid multiple rear-end collisions.
The driver of the black car —identified as Lee — can be then seen in the dash-camera footage getting out of the black car directly in front of the white pickup truck, now causing an obstruction to traffic on the highway as everyone behind him was forced to stop. Lee can be seen in the motorists’ dash-camera wearing a green Sheriff’s Office uniform and gun belt. He then says something to the driver of the pickup truck, the audio of which was not captured on the Toyota dash-camera.
The dash-camera footage provided by the driver of the Toyota matched his description of what transpired.
The Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Division investigated further. The driver of the white pickup truck was found shortly thereafter and interviewed. The pickup truck driver stated he remembered the incident clearly and even took notes. He stated he is a retired firefighter and did not report the incident out of his professional respect for law enforcement, however, he stated he was grateful the driver of the Toyota had video footage of what transpired. The pickup driver stated he saw a black car behind him rapidly approaching him in reckless manner. He stated that as a retired firefighter he has seen many deaths on roadways, so he moved his truck over in front of the car in an effort to slow its speed. The pickup driver reiterated that once the black car passed him illegally, he too, had to slam on his brakes to avoid rear-ending the black car.
The pickup driver stated the driver of the black car then got out, approached him and started screaming at him. The pickup driver stated the driver of the black car was wearing a law enforcement uniform, stated he was a deputy and used foul language while conveying to him to, “never do that again,” adding that the pickup driver didn’t know who he was or where he was going. The pickup driver stated he saw no law enforcement emergency lights nor sirens on the black car.
Lee is not trained to make traffic stops. Lee was not driving a law enforcement vehicle when this incident occurred. Lee had no legal basis for the driving patterns displayed nor for stopping traffic on U.S. 1. Lee later told a detective that he was late for work at the Stock Island jail and admitted to driving recklessly and stopping traffic.”
Here is what Sheriff Rick Ramsay said about the incident:
“First off: I want to personally thank the citizen who came forward in this matter.”
“I take these incidents very seriously. I take enormous pride in policing this community, that includes policing those under my command. When our employees commit crimes or make mistakes they are held accountable and the Sheriff’s Office will always be transparent regarding those matters. I expect the highest level of professional conduct from Sheriff’s Office staff. This type of behavior will never be tolerated under my leadership as reflected in the actions we have taken.”
Lee was on court supervision from an April 6, 2018 incident in Miami Gardens, in which Lee pleaded no contest to charges of domestic battery and theft of a license plate.
“Lee was picking up a child he has in common with an ex-girlfriend from daycare. The former couple ran into one another. The victim was with her present boyfriend. Lee became upset and slapped the woman on the face. He then followed the victim and her new boyfriend to a gas station where he removed her license plate from her vehicle and threatened to shoot both of them. He did not display a firearm when making the threat,” according to Miami Gardens Police.
Lee admitted to Miami Gardens Police to arguing with his ex-girlfriend and removing the license plate because he stated it belonged to him.
Police said Lee denied hitting the woman or threatening to shoot anyone.