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.

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.

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.

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.

FHP GETS A CALL - 12:11AM

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

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.'

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.

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.

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.

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.

"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.

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