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Marco Island police officer John Derrig lives in Southwest Florida infamy as one of its law enforcement officers who have been previously fired and reinstated twice through arbitration.

With a recent investigation into allegations of misconduct now complete, the question remains as to whether the department will attempt to fire him for the third time and, if so, whether its decision will stick.

The claims of wrongdoing and the department's intentions are not subject to public record until a final determination is rendered, but Derrig has recently requested disciplinary documents of other officers who were caught sleeping on duty.

While it's well-known that arbitration saved Derrig's job, public records show how the process aided in removing him from the state attorney's office's do-not-subpoena list in 2016.

The Supreme Court's 1963 decision in the Brady v. Maryland case established that prosecutors were required to disclose any exculpatory evidence, including evidence that would impeach a witness.

Each state attorney's office determines how it will meet its Brady requirements, ranging from sending out notices of potential issues to defense counsel to outright banning officers from testifying. 

The local state attorney's office keeps what it refers to as a do-not-subpoena list for officers whose credibility is too tarnished to use them as witnesses. While there are 14 now-former officers with the designation, the indiscretions Derrig was previously accused of temporarily landed him among the ranks of the discredited.

Hired in 2005, Derrig first received his walking papers in 2010 after he was accused of "being grossly insubordinate, being untruthful, and failing to write an accurate and truthful arrest report."

More: Why did a Marco Island police officer on leave seek info on officers sleeping on duty?

The policy violations pertained to Derrig's failures to turn on his mobile recording device and attach a picture of an arrested person's bloody face to an arrest report despite being ordered to do so.

Police administration and the union portrayed Derrig in two different lights: an immature officer who was the subject of consistent complaints and a "high performing officer" who performed his duties aggressively and was responsible for the majority of the department's arrests.

One of the union's witnesses and a previous supervisor of Derrig, Lt. Mike Pena, testified that while Derrig did garner his fair share of complaints, the scrutiny was unwarranted.

"If you just lay back and sit down, you can probably survive your years here without getting complaints," he said.

Although he found fault with some of Derrig's actions and the need for corrective action, Arbitrator Thomas Humphries ruled in his favor, reinstating his job and awarding six months of back pay.

"What is ultimately revealed through a thorough examination of the record is the case of an intense officer, 'high performing' according to a former supervisor but a loose cannon by other accounts, whose aggressive style had endeared himself neither to the Employer not to a number of citizens," Humphries wrote. "Although aspects of the Grievant's action including his often hard-line interactions with the citizenry do raise legitimate questions about the propriety of his conduct, the totality of the record falls short of supporting the penalty of discharge."

It was upon Derrig's January 2012 return to the department that additional charges would be levied and used against him, leading to his initial placement on the do-not-subpoena, or Brady, list.

2008 incident led to a second firing

Derrig's issues with police administration continued the moment he rejoined the department as did the differing accounts of his performance.

He was written up on multiple occasions, including for incompetency and absenteeism, yet received high marks on his evaluations.

"Derrig is conscientious of Officer Safety," then-Sgt. Tony Spina wrote in a memo. "He has good knowledge of Florida law; his reports are completed in an orderly manner; he has the highest arrest statistics in the agency."

But eight months into his return, the police department directed a criminal investigation into Derrig's conduct during a 2008 incident outside the Bombay Club in which he was accused of punching and kicking a South African national. Part of the alleged attack occurred after the person was in handcuffs.

Everyone from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to the FBI to Interpol was contacted but ultimately, no criminal charges were filed. The police department launched an internal affairs investigation in June 2013 in which it found Derrig violated policies misusing authority, use of force, rules of conduct, report writing and preliminary investigations.

Capt. Dave Baer was assigned as the investigator and is the same person Derrig has recently accused of placing malicious documents in his personnel file.

More: Inquiry launched into claims that acting Marco chief put malicious docs in employee files

The department launched a second internal affairs investigation in September 2013 in which it accused Derrig of wrongfully drawing his weapon after a vehicle pursuit.

Then-Chief Don Hunter recommended his termination, stating "I believe that the evidence of egregious officer conduct in this case is compelling and troublesome for any law enforcement officer in the modern age."

A 2014 letter from the state attorney's office showed the department's findings were forwarded and it began to raise concerns about Derrig's use as a witness given the infractions related to excessive force and false statements.

"In certain circumstances, your conclusions may be used as impeachment evidence against Officer Derrig and which may call into question the veracity and professional conduct of Officer Derrig," assistant state attorney Richard Montecalvo wrote. "Such impeachment could seriously undermine a prosecution and call into question the reliability of a favorable verdict."

How arbitration saved his career

Derrig's career received a third lease on life after arbitration against reversed the city's decision in 2015. 

Not only did Arbitrator Frank Squillace find that the charges did not warrant Derrig's dismissal, he found them to be superficial and without merit.

"His behavior was not counter to good police work performance," Squillace wrote. "He did not exhibit irresponsibility or carelessness with his assignments. It is unfortunate that the Police Department Administration had a certain animus toward Officer Derrig. Thus, the Union's claim that Officer Derrig was retaliated against, is meritorious."

The arbitration award noted a lack of sufficient evidence to find Derrig guilty and gave credence to the union's argument that the police department's investigation was "faulty and contrived."

Multiple police officers either testified that police administration was out to get Derrig or that it had a history of singling out certain officers.

When Derrig regained his position, he was given tasks "belittling to a law enforcement officer." This included putting together glow sticks for a Halloween event, taking reports for walk-ins and washing police cars.

Along with disputing that he had lied about the Bombay Club incident, Derrig said he acted appropriately during the pursuit that prompted the second investigation.

The union was successful in showing Derrig's actions were similar to six other officers, who were never cited for misconduct. There were at least three situations in which it could prove the collective bargaining agreement was violated due to disparate treatment.

Despite the arbitrator's decision, Derrig remained on the do-not-subpoena list, according to an Aug. 25, 2016, letter from Montecalvo to then-Police Al Schettino.

"This fact does not relieve the SAO from making an independent determination whether to utilize Officer Derrig as a witness for the prosecution," he wrote. "Serious, founded allegations of false statements have been made against Officer Derrig in at least two separate IA investigations dating back to 2010 and calls into question the truthfulness and veracity of Officer Derrig."

Derrig's attorney, Michael Braverman, fought back and wrote in a letter to Montecalvo that it was unclear if he was aware of arbitrator's findings or had considered them given that he had been exonerated.

"Given the quasi-judicial findings of facts and conclusions that Officer Derrig did not violate the departmental rules or regulations related to false reports or statements, it is difficult to understand the basis of your determination," Braverman wrote.

More than two months later, the state attorney's office reversed course in a letter to Schettino, stating that its initial decision was made based on the internal affairs investigations that were later disputed and not the findings in the arbitrator's award.

More: Citing Marco Island policeman's role in arrests, state prosecutors dropped charges

Matt Sellers, president of the Police Benevolent Association's Gulf Coast chapter, was unaware of any other officers who were added and removed from the local do-not-subpoena list, though he said that might change.

The city of Marco Island fired officer Tige Thompson this year due to also being on the do-not-subpoena list. The city argued Thompson was unable to fulfill the duties of his job because he was not permitted to testify.

Like in the case of Derrig, Thompson's legal counsel has challenged the "defects" of the internal affairs investigation that prompted his inclusion on the do-not-subpoena list.

More: Closed-meeting transcript: Employment threats, police lies and the makings of a settlement

A recent investigation into the police department's former records clerk also raises additional questions about the veracity of police findings.

Although Baer ruled allegations Heather Comparini leaked confidential information were not sustained, Police Chief Tracy Frazzano told city councilors the allegations were "unfounded" in an October closed-meeting that was called to discuss a settlement in her lawsuit. The city reached a $35,000 settlement this month.

The major distinction between the two rulings is that a not sustained finding can neither confirm or refute an infraction occurred. 

Thompson is attempting to regain his job through arbitration, which recently wrapped up hearings.

"Officer Tige Thompson just finished arbitration," Sellers wrote in an email to the Naples Daily News. "If he is awarded his job back, it is possible he, too, could be taken off the list." 

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