BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Surveillance video obtained exclusively by Local 10 News shows for the first time an off-duty Broward Sheriff's Office sergeant attacking a man at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and it appears that Seminole police reports uphold that the BSO Weston substation supervisor instigated the 4 a.m. fight.
BSO Sgt. William "Sonny" Morgan was charged with misdemeanor battery after the fight last August and tried to use his personal friendship with Sheriff Scott Israel to "make this go away," according to police reports.
"Mr. Morgan informed me that he was personal friends with the sheriff of Broward County and the chief of the Seminole Police Department and requested that I call them to 'help him out' and 'make this go away,'" wrote Seminole police Detective Jarret Romanello in reports.
While in custody, Morgan called BSO Sgt. Wayne Alloy, the husband of Seminole Police Chief William Latchford's secretary, whom Morgan claimed would "get him out of this mess."
"I allowed Mr. Morgan a phone call and Sgt. Alloy told Mr. Morgan that he would not interfere with the investigation or call the Seminole chief of police to involve him," Romanello wrote.
Morgan, who refused to comment on the case while he awaits trial, also allegedly threatened to have the SWAT team from Weston go after the victim of the crime, Mitchell Maanster, 24.
"Mr. Morgan informed me that he was a sergeant with the Broward Sheriff's Office and that he had nine guys on his Weston tactical team that would take care of Mr. Maanster," Romanello wrote. "Mr. Morgan requested that I obtain Mr. Maanster's contact information and give it to him so his team and him could 'deal with him later.'"
Israel isn't talking about the case but BSO spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion wrote in an email that Israel had no involvement whatsoever in the investigation of Morgan.
Despite the criminal charge, the talk of using the SWAT team, and his alleged attempt to use his friendship with the sheriff to kill the case against him, Morgan was suspended with pay and has collected not only his $86,000 salary during the past year, but also has retained his take-home vehicle.
Israel said he didn't know Morgan was allowed to keep his BSO car during the suspension, according to Concepcion, and has directed BSO's professional standards Col. Jack Dale to "look into the matter."
When any deputy is charged with a crime, BSO policy gives discretion to the agency whether it chooses to suspend with or without pay. Morgan was actually taken off suspension earlier this month and placed on restrictive administrative duty, according to BSO.
After the fight was broken up, Linda Morgan got her husband's wallet and flashed his badge. According to police reports, both Morgan and his wife told police that Maanster had tried to solicit sex from her and then attacked the sergeant. But police determined that surveillance video showed it was Linda Morgan who had initially approached Maanster while he was playing slots.
"I asked Mrs. Morgan what she said to Mr. Maanster and she would not answer," Romanello wrote in a report. "I asked Mrs. Morgan if she was hitting on Mr. Maanster and if she lied to her husband in order to explain looming near him. Mrs. Morgan put her head down, placed her hands over her face and began crying. She told she did not want to talk to me anymore and that her husband ‘protects the county' and that I should 'take care of him.'"
The surveillance video shows Linda Morgan approaching Maanster and pointing her finger at him. Maanster avoids her but William Morgan, initially with his hands behind his back, is seen wheeling into Maanster, allegedly striking him with his shoulder.
Maanster initially backs up and William Morgan appears to grab him by the neck, initiating a fight during which Maanster repeatedly throws the relentless sergeant to the floor. Maanster suffered a serious rug burn to the forehead during the fight that has led to permanent discoloration.
Maanster said he never solicited sex from Linda Morgan and that he still has no idea why they came after him.
"I think he should do some time in jail," said Maanster, who added that he was particularly troubled by the report that showed William Morgan allegedly was going to have the SWAT team come after him.
Broward Police Benevolence Association President Jeff Marano said it was his understanding that Linda Morgan had been assaulted -- "goosed," as he put it -- prior to the fight and that had enraged the husband. But that allegation was never even levied by either Linda or William Morgan. When asked where he heard that information, he said he believed it came from a BSO union representative.
"I would chalk that up to being involved with alcohol," said Marano. "I don't think that's very typical of Sonny's character."
Marano also said that because William Morgan was suspended with pay, the union contract dictates that he either keep his BSO car or receive a stipend of about $450 a month. Morgan's trial, meanwhile, has been continued several times at the request of the defense, according to the state attorney's office.
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