On Dec. 4, Captain Penny Phelps was relieved of her duties as the head of the Monroe County Sheriff’s major crimes unit after a damning audio recording of her telling officers to pull over a Black murder suspect and “act like a white supremacist,” and a “neo-Nazi cop” was released, according to the Miami Herald.
The command was made in an attempt to obtain information from the man. The recording was released on Dec. 7 to the Miami Herald. Phelps could be heard making the comments between the 3:54 to 4:05 minute marks.
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Phelps was taken off the case by Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay after he became aware of the recording. She was pulled from the case in October 2017. The audiotape was turned over to defense attorneys soon.
Ramsay also launched an internal investigation of Phelps’ conduct during her tenure as the head investigator into the “treehouse murder.” The murder took place in November 2017 in Key West, according to CBS 12. A woman’s throat was also slashed but she survived the attack and identified the men involved.
“Several issues concerning the treehouse murder case have been brought to my attention,” Ramsay said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “I immediately turned them over to my Internal Affairs Division and directed that an investigation be initiated.”
He also disclosed that no further details of the investigation could be discussed until after it was completed.
Ramsay didn’t speculate if Phelps would still have a job.
“We have to have all the facts first,” he told the Miami Herald on Saturday.
Phelps also made a statement to the Herald, “It’s an open investigation. Once the investigation is closed, I’ll be happy to talk.”
She reportedly earned roughly $110,000 annually, according to Ramsay. The captain has been on the force for 18 years. Phelps also has a doctorate in organizational management and leadership from Cappella University. In the past, she has taught basic law enforcement classes at a local community college.
“She is still currently heading officer training for the department”, said agency spokesman Adam Linhardt to the Herald.
In the same case, the lead prosecutor from the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office was taken off after complaints were filed by one of the defense attorneys of one of the defendants. Colleen Dunne is currently being investigated by the Florida Bar Association. She is also facing allegations of withholding evidence from the defense team in an attempted murder case from 2009, according to Florida Keys News.
Dunne has been removed from all of her cases as well.