Two Florida cops — a lieutenant and a detective sergeant — allegedly handcuffed and jailed their 3-year-old son to “discipline” him for having difficulties with potty training.
Daytona Beach Shores police Lt. Michael Schoenbrod told a Department of Children and Families caseworker that he took the boy to headquarters in October and put him behind bars, the News-Journal reported, citing body-cam video.
The child was jailed twice, the first time on Oct. 5 and again the following day, when he was also cuffed, according to the outlet.
“He was crying. I was getting the response I expected from him,” Schoenbrod told the caseworker, the footage from a Volusia County sheriff’s deputy reportedly shows.
He said his son promised to never poop in his pants again after his time in the slammer.
Schoenbrod admitted that he also had resorted to the jail tactic about nine years ago, when he disciplined his then-4-year-old son for hitting a girl in preschool, the newspaper said.
“I took him to the jail and he sat there. And I watched him … and he was crying and everything, and to this day, if you mention, like, that incident, he’s just like, ‘I would never do that again.’ It was effective,” Schoenbrod told the caseworker.
“So that’s why I did it with this. He didn’t hit anybody, but I figured the same thing, discipline. And he didn’t want to go back, so …,” the lieutenant added, according to the report.
It was not immediately clear whether Schoenbrod and Detective Sgt. Jessica Long faced discipline, according to the News-Journal, which said it obtained copies of memos from Public Safety Director Michael Fowler informing the couple about a probe.
The top cop told the paper he would consult with the city attorney before commenting.
Schoenbrod and Long — who live together and have the child together — and their attorney, Michael Lambert, have not responded to the paper’s requests for comments. A Department of Children and Families rep acknowledged a request for comment but did not offer one.
“It’s just disgusting that somebody would drag our family through the mud like this,” Schoenbrod said in the video, while Long could be heard calling the investigation “insane,” the News-Journal reported.
Meanwhile, City Clerk Cheri Schwab said a judge has sealed the records in a March 24 case that lists Schoenbrod “et al.” as plaintiffs and the State Attorney’s Office “et al.” as defendants.
The couple also filed a separate case against State Attorney R.J. Larizza on May 18, but the initial filing and several subsequent motions have been marked as confidential, according to the News-Journal.
Antonio Jaimes, an attorney with the Volusia County Clerk of Court’s Office, told the outlet that the cases “are confidential due to motions for confidentiality filed within the cases.”
But Michael Barfield, director of public access initiatives for the Florida Center for Government Accountability, argued that the internal-affairs documents should be made public.
“A pending motion to determine confidentiality of court records does not have any impact on the city’s IA (internal affairs) investigation,” Barfield told the News-Journal in an email.
“A party cannot make a record that is subject to production under Chapter 119 (of the state public records law) confidential by merely filing a lawsuit requesting confidentiality and then not setting a hearing on the motion,” he added.
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman said she has forwarded a request from the paper about any completed investigation to the public records department for processing.
Former city attorney Lonnie Groot also has reportedly sought records about any officer placing a child in a jail cell, as well as investigations into “alleged child abuse by an officer.”
“This whole matter just does not pass the basic smell test from a transparency and governmental openness perspective,” he wrote City Attorney Becky Vose, the outlet said.
And a former South Daytona police officer who describes himself as a civil-rights activist said that when he requested the findings of the professional standards probe, he was provided an estimate of $3,398.40 − about 40 hours of work at $84.96 per hour — to review and redact the documents.
“It’s a severe matter of public interest when you have strong allegations of that kind,” Dickinson told the paper. “Rumors are being brought to you by fellow law enforcement … and you want to make sure the stuff they’re saying isn’t true.”