WATCH: Bay County Corporal Resigns Over Questionable Arrest and False Report

PANAMA CITY, Florida — A Bay County corporal has resigned amid an internal investigation that he lied on reports in order to justify the questionable arrest of a teen for obstructing an investigation, according to reports released Friday by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

BCSO Corp. Chris Faircloth resigned March 5 at the conclusion of an internal investigation that found he falsified information on an arrest affidavit. The case stemmed from a January welfare check on children at an East Fourth Street home in Callaway, where BCSO acted as support to a Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigation.

Faircloth’s resignation came only days after his superior officers recommended he be suspended without pay. In his letter to Sheriff Tommy Ford, Faircloth wrote that he regretted having to resign and hoped that it would not sully his reputation.

“I’ve given my heart and soul into this position as a law enforcement officer and have been proud to protect and serve our community,” he wrote. “I would appreciate your support moving forward.”

About 1 p.m. Jan. 12, DCF personnel arrived at Ralph Diaz’s Fourth Street home to investigate reports about safety issues and check on the well-being of two children living there. BCSO assisted on the call. Neither the DCF nor BCSO had a warrant to enter the property and could only do so with permission.

As deputies approached, Diaz began recording them in his front yard and said they could not come onto his property — that it was against his constitutional rights. At one point, he instructed 19-year-old Ralph Diaz Jr. to close the front gate.

According to the arrest affidavit Faircloth submitted that day, Diaz Jr. intentionally closed the gate on his hand “in order to place a padlock on the gate.” Saying that inhibited DCF’s investigation, he entered the yard and arrested Diaz Jr. on a charge of resisting arrest without violence.

The cellphone video then shows Diaz backing toward his front door with his pit bull in front of him. In his submitted affidavit, Faircloth claimed that in order to keep the dog from lunging at and attacking him, he was “forced” to pepper spray it.

Diaz then barricaded himself inside the house. DCF asked if Faircloth could enter the home, and he said he could not without a warrant or a well-founded fear for the children’s safety, according to the report.

As Diaz Jr. was taken to the Bay County Jail, his father filed a complaint with BCSO alleging Faircloth had trespassed, unlawfully arrested his son and subjected his dog to inhumane abuse. After hearing from other officers on the scene that Faircloth had not actually been struck by the gate, BCSO forwarded the case to internal affairs.

As the investigation unfolded, internal affairs officers likewise found that the gate did not strike Faircloth and that he did not have grounds to enter the yard.

In a February interview with Faircloth, investigators questioned his story. He maintained that the gate striking him was grounds for the arrest.

“Just when it initially closed, the, there’s a little metal fragments,” Faircloth told investigators. ”… I guess that just scraped my hand, you know, and I felt it and, like I say, I didn’t wanna make a big huge deal out of it but, you know, I went ahead and told her to place him in custody.”

Faircloth also told investigators that he proceeded onto the property and sprayed the dog because he “didn’t wanna get bit.”

“The dog was very agitated, barkin’ … he would’ve bit one of us if we got any closer to him,” Faircloth said.

Investigators concluded Faircloth did not have probable cause to arrest the teen and had to trespass on the property to pepper spray the dog, which the video shows barking but restrained. Additionally Faircloth knew the arrest affidavits contained inaccurate information and did nothing to correct them, investigators found.

At the conclusion of the internal investigation, the State Attorney’s Office dropped the charge against Diaz Jr. and expunged the arrest from his record. Faircloth resigned in the days before BCSO sent a letter to the father, informing him of the disposition.

Diaz Sr. has not been charged with any child neglect or abuse offenses.

Ford said Faircloth made the wrong decision in a tense situation. However, he said, filing false reports will not be tolerated at BCSO.

“One of our founding values is our integrity,” Ford said. “It’s our bedrock. When it is compromised, it undermines the trust instilled in us by the public. And that cannot be tolerated.”