WATCH: Tampa Police Say Palm Beach Sergeant, Wife Should Have Been Arrested

March 30, 2017

Multiple Tampa police officers told Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office internal affairs investigators that if Sgt. Christopher Caris and his wife, Tanya, were not associated with law enforcement on the night they were “unruly” guests at a downtown hotel, they would have been arrested.

But they weren’t.

Instead, Caris and his wife were suspended this month after internal affairs finished its investigation into the Dec. 10 incident, in which the couple were given a trespass warning and ordered to leave the hotel after they were accused of harassing guests, according to documents released this week.

Christopher Caris was suspended for 160 hours, or 20 days, after investigators say he violated conduct rules when he was removed from the hotel by Tampa police. Police at the scene said Caris was “belligerent, disrespectful, arrogant.” Caris also must attend alcohol counseling.

Tanya Caris was suspended from her position for 80 hours, or 10 days, according to the internal-affairs documents. Caris is a supervisor for the alternate response team and works in a civilian capacity, according to the report.

The incident, which was recorded by body cameras, began after guests at the Tampa Marriott Waterside called police to say Caris was throwing ice at a guest’s door and were being disruptive during the early hours of Dec. 10. Caris and his wife refused to open their hotel-room door or speak with officers, and they held the door closed as police tried to enter, according to the police report. Caris yelled expletives at police and told them he worked for law enforcement and knew the law.

“You’ve had a lot to drink tonight,” Tampa police Senior Sgt. Christopher Ugles said to Caris, according to body-camera footage.

“That’s not against the law,” Caris replied.

“But what’s against the law is disturbing the peace,” Ugles replied.

Eventually, officers were able to get them out of the hotel and send them on their way with a trespass warning. According to the report, the head of hotel security did not want the deputy arrested. Caris and his wife were banned from the property for a year, according to the police report.

Download our PostNOW app to get the latest Breaking News

During the internal affairs investigation completed by the sheriff’s office, officer after officer said Caris and his wife should have been arrested. The only law enforcement interviewed who thought otherwise was Ugles, who was called to the scene after Caris told officers he was a law-enforcement officer.

When Ugles was interviewed in January about the incident, he was asked if he thought the husband and wife violated the trespass warning.

“I’m gonna lean away from saying that he was coherent to know that he was trespassing beyond the warnings from 2-3 hours earlier and just go with the fact that he felt he was right to go to sleep,” Ugles said.

He said they both seemed to be good people and didn’t think this would have happened if alcohol weren’t involved. On the night of the incident Ugles is recorded telling Tanya Caris as they leave the hotel that

that they could have arrested her husband but “we don’t want that.”

“I want to see him have a long career,” he said.

Officer James Wilcher was on road patrol the night of the incident and was called to the hotel to assist. Wilcher was asked if Caris and his wife would have been arrested that night if they were not sheriff’s office employees.

Wilcher replied, “In a heartbeat.”

Wilcher said Caris disrespected his agency, the sheriff’s office and law enforcement all together with his actions and demeanor that night.

“(I) can’t remember ever dealing with a cop outside anywhere remotely like this,” he told investigators.

Officer Jay Hollman said he was “bothered by how he was let off because of this status as a police officer.”

“If it was anybody else, they would have went to jail,” he said.

Hollman said he was shocked how Caris conducted himself as he told officers he worked in law enforcement or “being a person period that wild.”

Other officers said while Tanya Caris was less intoxicated, she did not help the situation and at one point was screaming at the top of he lungs, according to the report.

Christopher Caris told investigators the entire situation was his fault and wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the alcohol. He said he called Ugles after the incident to apologize.

“I would like to say how deeply sorry I am for this embarrassing incident. I have suffered tremendously from the pain and public humiliation not only to myself but also to my family, colleagues, friends and the sheriff’s office,” he said. “The only one I have to blame is myself.”

Tanya Caris said she was scared that night, but wanted to defend her husband and herself when they were questioned by police. She told investigators that her husband was drinking and others people had been in similar situations before, but was sorry for the way she acted and dealt with police.

“I’ve never seen this in person when it happens to your own spouse who also works in law enforcement. This is not Chris’ character, it was the alcohol talking. If Chris acted like this all the time, he couldn’t be a sergeant here,” she said.

“Unfortunately in our case, we were captured and exposed,” she said.