ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Paul Thomas said Florida Fish and Wildlife investigator Rick Brown threatened to shoot him if he didn’t sign a littering ticket.
Eyewitness News reporter Bianca Castro learned that it’s not the first time that wildlife agents have been accused of taking things too far.
Thomas said a broken tailpipe is the last thing he expected would lead to a confrontation last March. He said that’s when Brown forced him to sign a littering ticket.
“I thought I would be dead, right there in my house,” said Thomas.
Thomas said the trouble started when his vehicle’s tailpipe broke off on a residential road. He said it was too hot to touch, so he used his cane to push it aside.
According to Thomas that’s when Brown, who was off duty, pulled up in his personal truck and told Thomas that he was littering.
Thomas said they exchanged some words and Thomas left.
According to Thomas, the next day Brown showed up at his house with a gun.
“And I just back up to go to close the door. He fight with me, pushing me and he pull his gun. He put it right there on the top of his clipboard,” said Thomas.
Thomas complained to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Inspectors looked into the officer’s actions and found he did nothing wrong.
WFTV learned that the agency received 180 complaints last year from people who said its agents abused their power, or mistreated them.
“We hear about it far too often, where officers act outside of the parameters of the law. So what we have here is a clear violation of Mr. Thomas’ 4th Amendment rights,”
said attorney Shayan Modarres.
Thomas is suing the agency.
“They don’t have no right to come to my house, with no court order, to push me, fight with me, to come inside my house by himself with no identification and threaten me with a gun,” said Thomas.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said its agents often get a bad rap because they enforce laws that a lot of people don’t think about while they’re enjoying recreational activities.
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