In November 2016, a private security guard says he was working his shift in Pompano Beach when Broward Sheriff's Dep. Trazell McLeod groped and propositioned him, then threatened him with arrest. McLeod, a 20-year-old who was new to the force, was arrested days later on charges of extortion, official misconduct, and tampering with evidence.
A new lawsuit filed by the victim says the Broward Sheriff's Office should have never hired McLeod: According to an incident report from St. Lucie County, the rookie deputy was already a suspect in a sexual battery case from 2015. The guard's attorney, Jose Lorenzo Jr., says the sheriff's office failed to appropriately screen McLeod or adopt policies to prevent sexual assault.
"BSO, like in all cases these days, doesn't accept responsibility for anything," Lorenzo tells New Times. "They should compensate my client for what their deputy did to him, but they refuse to rectify their mistakes."
McLeod was hired by BSO in February 2016. The St. Lucie case, which has never before been reported, stems from an incident in September 2015 that Broward detectives discovered while investigating the alleged sexual assault on the security guard.
According to an incident report, a 15-year-old boy accused 19-year-old McLeod of sexual battery after sharing a hotel room with him and two other juveniles at a Hilton in Port St. Lucie. The 15-year-old told detectives he was sharing a bed with McLeod when McLeod exposed his penis and forced the younger teen's head toward it. The 15-year-old pulled back but said McLeod's penis touched his cheek before he was able to push away.
Records show BSO reported the incident to the St. Lucie Sheriff's Office in December 2016. St. Lucie detectives ultimately determined there was probable cause to arrest McLeod for sexual battery of a juvenile, but McLeod committed suicide in January 2017 while out on bond in the extortion case.
In that case, a security guard hired to watch over the Ali Cultural Arts building says he was working his shift in November 2016 when McLeod accused him of soliciting prostitutes in the area. According to the guard, McLeod insisted on doing a "pat-down," during which he repeatedly groped the guard's genitals and planted crack cocaine inside the guard's pockets. McLeod then threatened the guard with arrest if he didn't have sex with him.
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The guard was able to escape, but he says McLeod got his phone number from a co-worker and then staked out the guard's house. Afraid for his safety, the guard and his family spent the night at a hotel before reporting the incident to BSO's internal affairs division the next day.
The security guard's lawsuit now accuses BSO of negligent hiring practices.
"[BSO] knew or... should have known that McLeod was unfit for his duties, did not exhibit appropriate boundaries with others, and/or posed a risk of perpetuating unwanted sexual contact with others," the May 3 lawsuit alleges.
BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing a standard policy about pending litigation.