A sheriff in Liberty County, Fla., was arrested and charged last week with official misconduct. When a man was arrested in March for carrying a concealed weapon, Sheriff Nicholas Finch allegedly released him and altered or destroyed paperwork on the arrest to make it appear as though it never happened. His attorney said Finch freed the man and refused to charge him because he believes in the Second Amendment.
Court documents show that on March 8 suspect Floyd Eugene Parrish was arrested during a traffic stop when a police sergeant discovered a .25 automatic pistol in his pocket as well as a holstered revolver in the front seat. He was taken to the county jail.
Finch, 50, spoke with Parrish’s brother at the jail, then he ordered correctional officers to release Parrish with no charges filed. Investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said Finch also ordered the pistol and revolver be returned to him.
Analysis of the jail log sheet showed tampering, as there was white out over Parrish’s name.
FDLE investigators found there is no original record of Parrish’s arrest, only the arresting officer’s copy of the arrest affidavit and a computer record, neither of which are admissible in court.
The misconduct charge is a third-degree felony. If Finch is found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison.
Finch’s attorney claims the investigators’ story is accurate.
“The records at the jail show exactly what happened in this case and the records speak the truth,” said attorney Jimmy Judkins. “The sheriff looked at the facts and said ‘I believe in the Second Amendment and we’re not going to charge him.’ That is not misconduct at all. That is within the sheriff’s prerogative whether to charge someone or not.”
After the June 4 arrest, FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey received a number of complaints from residents who stand with Finch and say the sheriff was just doing his job.
Gov. Rick Scott named an interim sheriff until July 4. Interim Sheriff Carl Causey was the Assistant Special Agent in Charge for FDLE’s Pensacola Region.