Asleep behind the wheel

It was a call to police by a nearby resident that a man appeared to be asleep behind the wheel of a red SUV. The car was idling and was in the middle of the road. Behind the wheel the officer discovered the City Manager of Port Richey Tom O'Neill. While the New Port Richey officer reportedly smelled alcohol on the driver, he closed his report. It was not until the I-Team discovered a police dash cam video of the incident that the New Port Richey police chief took notice and promised to look further into it. Days later questions were being raised on whether the officer handled the case appropriately, and why a police chief from nearby Port Richey went to the scene.

The timeline is based upon information contained in police reports, two-way communications, and observations made from the Port Richey dash mounted police video.

2013-07-14 00:04:00

DRIVER APPEARS TO BE SLEEPING - 12:04AM

New Port Richey Police receive a call from a woman driving home in the area of Astor Drive who saw a car in the middle of the street. She tells the agency that there is a red SUV parked in the street on Astor Dr and Avery Rd and it 'appears the driver is sleeping.' NPR Police dispatch Patrol Officer Brian Bernd and Corporal William Phillips.

2013-07-14 00:07:00

CORPORAL REQUESTS ASSISTANCE - 12:07AM

At the request of New Port Richey Corporal Phillips, his dispatch contacts the Port Richey Police Department to ask for assistance and requests a supervisor to assist Phillips. Port Richey says they don't have anyone available.

2013-07-14 00:08:00

CORPORAL ARRIVES AT ASTOR DRIVE - 12:08AM

New Port Richey Police communication supervisor says Cpl. Phillips arrived at Astor Drive at 12:08am. Reports show Cpl. Phillips had dispatch run the tag number of the red Ford SUV and the registration came back to Tom O'Neill. The corporal then recognized the driver as Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill. According to reports, Cpl Phillips does not have a video system and the one in Patrol Officer Bernd's vehicle was not working. New Port Richey dispatch was asked to contact Pasco Sheriff's Office and FHP to assist and 'avoid the appearance or potential conflict of interest.'

2013-07-14 00:09:00

DISPATCH AGAIN CALLS PORT RICHEY - 12:09AM

The New Port Richey dispatcher contacts the Port Richey Police Department again and this time asks for a 'senior' officer to assistance Cpl. Phillips in his welfare check of Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill.

2013-07-14 00:11:00

FHP GETS A CALL - 12:11AM

Florida Highway Patrol is contacted by New Port Richey dispatch requesting assistance for Cpl. Phillips.

2013-07-14 00:12:00

PORT RICHEY OFFICER RESPONDS

Port Richey Police Department two-way tranmissions show Officer Lloyd Johansen was contacted by dispatch to provide assistance to New Port Richey Cpl. Phillips.

2013-07-14 00:24:00

DASH CAM VIDEO CATPURES THE SCENE - APPROX 12:24AM

Port Richey Police Officer Lloyd Johansen arrives to assist NPR Police Cpl. Phillips, and according to a time stamp on the beginning of the dash cam video, starts recording the scene of the red Ford SUV parked in the middle of Astor Drive. City Manager Tom O'Neill was still reportedly asleep behind the wheel.

2013-07-14 00:26:00

NO MORE AUDIO FOR NOW - APPROX 12:26AM

Port Richey Officer Johansen along with NPR Corporal Phillips walk to the right of the SUV and look inside the vehicle. While walking back towards his police cruiser Ofc. Johansen turns off the microphone. The audio recording for the dash mounted video stays off until 42 minutes later.

2013-07-14 00:29:00

PORT RICHEY POLICE CHIEF CALLS - APPROX 12:29AM

Just minutes after he arrives, two-way communication from the Port Richey Police Department reveals Officer Johansen is requested to call what appears to be Port Richey Police Chief Dave Brown.

2013-07-14 00:38:00

"FD IN BLACK" - 12:38AM

New Port Richey Police two-way transmission shows Cpl. Phillips requested "FD in black" to the location on Astor, which means non-emergency and don't run lights and siren.

2013-07-14 00:43:00

PORT RICHEY CHIEF ARRIVES - APPROX 12:43AM

Approximxately 14 minutes after Port Richey Police Chief Dave Brown talks to Ofc. Johansen on Nextel he arrives. Chief Brown can be seen in the dash cam video walking to Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill's SUV along with the officers. Paramedics arrive about five minutes later.

2013-07-14 00:46:00

FIRE DEPT "JUST NOTIFIED" - 12:46AM

New Port Richey Cpl. Phillips can be heard, on calls from the New Port Richey Police Dept, checking back with dispatch on the status of his request for the fire dept. According to the NPRPD communications supervisor, it appears dispatch got busy or was confused, but realized the fire department was not originally notified. They tell Cpl. Phillips that the fire department was 'just notified.'

2013-07-14 00:47:00

FIRE RESCUE GETS THE CALL - 12:47AM

Pasco County Fire Rescue reports receiving the call for assistance and dispatching a unit to Astor Drive.

2013-07-14 00:48:00

PARAMEDICS ARRIVE - APPROX 12:48AM

Paramedics from the New Port Richey Fire Dept. are seen arriving in the dash cam video. New Port District Fire Chief Paul Brozyna arrives a few minutes later.

2013-07-14 00:56:00

FOLLOW-UP ON FIRE RESCUE - APPROX 12:56AM

New Port Richey Police two-way tranmission shows Corporal Phillips checking back with dispatch and requesting "FD step it up." It appears this is a call to see how far out Pasco County Fire Rescue is to the scene.

2013-07-14 00:58:00

RESCUE ARRIVES - APPROX 12:58AM

Pasco County Fire Rescue arrives and a few minutes later NPR District Fire Chief Paul A. Brozyna can be seen in the dash cam video walking with two fire rescue personnel.

2013-07-14 01:28:00

RESCUE TRANSPORTS TO THE HOSPITAL - 1:28AM

Approximately 30 minutes after arriving and attending to City Manager Tom O'Neill, Pasco Fire Rescue transports him to North Bay Hospital.

2013-07-14 02:17:00

CHIEF AT THE HOSPITAL - 2:17AM

Port Richey Police Department two-way tranmissions show Chief Dave Brown at North Bay Hospital.

2013-07-15 00:56:00

BACK TO WORK

Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill arrived for a normal day at work on Monday July 15, 2013.

2013-07-16 00:58:00

CHANGES TO THE POLICE REPORT

New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart told the I-Team that it was on Tuesday, two days after the incident, that he saw Corporal Phillips report for the first time. He requested the Corporal explain the 'decision to go "medical" and provide more detail concerning the call.

2013-07-19 01:28:00

DASH CAM VIDEO UNCOVERED

The I-Team receives a copy of the police dash cam video from Port Richey Police Department and requests supporting documents including the original draft and final draft of both the New Port Richey and Port Richey police reports.

2013-07-27 02:17:00

DIGGING DEEPER

New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart tells the I-Team that because of the Port Richey police dash cam video that ABC Action News brought to his attention, he's going to review it and "I'm going to dig deeper, deeper into this." Chief Bogart went on to say "I think there was no question that alcohol was a factor." The Chief said he was not aware of what happened until roll call on Monday July 15th and the next day he saw the report for the first time and asked Corporal Phillips to provide in his report a better explanation of how he determined it was a medical call rather than a potential dui.

2013-07-28 00:08:00

EXPERT REACTS

Questions continue about the way in which the situation was handled when Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill was found asleep behind the wheel of his suv. Former Pinellas County deputy and state certified DUI expert Bobby Haimes agrees with the paramedics call to take O'Neill to the hospital, but questions why the New Port Richey officer did not follow-up with the possibility of it being a driver impaired.

2013-07-29 00:58:00

PORT RICHEY POLICE CHIEF SPEAKS

Port Richey Police Chief Dave Brown sits down with I-Team investigator Jackie Callaway and explains why he went to the scene where Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill was found asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle. Chief Brown said, "As a friend of Mr. O'Neill and him being my boss, and knowing he has medical situations going on, I felt compelled to go and assist." "I definitely did not and would not interfere. It was a New Port Richey case and whatever comes of it."

2013-07-30 00:08:00

STATE ATTORNEY INVESTIGATION

The Pinellas/Pasco State Attorney's Office opened an investigation into whether Tom O'Neill was driving under the influence the morning he was found asleep behind the wheel, or if he had a medical problem. The state can subpoena any blood work that was done when O'Neill was taken to North Bay Hospital on Sunday July 14th.

2013-08-01 00:26:00

RADIO DISPATCH RECORDINGS

Audio recordings obtained by the I-Team reveal how the New Port Richey Police corporal had dispatch ask Port Richey Police for a supervisor to join him in the field.

2013-08-02 02:17:00

CHANGING POLICY

Port Richey Police review policy after the I-Team started asking questions about why 43 minutes of the audio was missing from the police dash mounted video. Captain David Young said Officer Johansen didn't want to record his personal coversations with the other officer and shut the microphone off. While the officer did not violate any policies, Captain Young says he will establish guidelines within the agency and require that audio be recorded the entire time that a dash mounted camera is recording.

2013-08-29 00:08:00

CHARGED WITH DUI

Six weeks after the I-Team started asking questions about a bay area city manager found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV, we've learned he was over four times the legal limit and is now being charged with driving under the influence. Documents obtained by the I-Team reveal the state attorney's office has filed one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence. Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill's blood alcohol level was .367.

2013-08-30 00:08:00

OFFICER FACED UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES

New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart blames unique circumstances for the fact his officer failed to follow through with a DUI charge after paramedics suggested Port Richey City Manager Tom O’Neill could have had a stroke and took him to the hospital. New Port Richey's chief pointed a finger at his Port Richey counter part Chief Dave Brown.

2013-09-04 16:14:38

O'Neill offers to step down

Port Richey City Manager Tom O’Neill turned in his resignation Wednesday September 4th at a special session, but city council ultimately rejected it, and offered him another alternative. In less than an hour, the debate over what to do with the city manager led to his staying on as Port Richey 's leader. In a 4-1 vote, city council voted to suspend O’Neil for thirty days instead of letting him quit, provided that he get help for substance abuse.

2013-09-12 02:17:00

O'NEILL'S DUI ARRAIGNMENT

Port Richey City Manager Tom O'Neill appeared in Pasco County Court to face a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge. The proceeding didn't take very long. Judge Marc Salton recused himself from the case stating he and O'Neill know one another personally and professionally. The case has now been reassigned to Judge Ann Wansboro.

Asleep behind the wheel

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