911 Operator Suspected Kruse was Intoxicated

Dawn Kitterman
MANATEE COUNTY — Additional public records obtained by TBT show that emergency dispatch operators working the 911 call from an April 20 vehicle crash involving Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse, perceived the situation as a possible intoxicated driver traffic accident.  

A computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system is utilized by dispatchers and 911 operators to prioritize and record incident calls, locate and view the status of responders in the field, and effectively dispatch responder personnel. During an emergency call, a chronological event log is recorded in the CAD, capturing the time a call first comes in, the nature of the emergency and location details, a record of dispatched emergency personnel, and comments entered in real-time by dispatch operators.  

In a now widely reported incident, Commissioner Kruse drove his F150 pickup truck into a tree on April 20 in his residential community of Greyhawk Landing. The incident became public knowledge when the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into whether the commissioner was intoxicated at the time of the incident. 

While MSO has concluded its investigation, evidence and facts have been referred to the state attorney’s office on capias request to determine if formal charges should be filed. Despite neither a breathalyzer nor a field sobriety test being administered the night of the incident, 911 call recordings, bodycam footage, witness statements, and a supplemental incident report by a responding officer were included in the records sent to the state attorney’s office.

TBT followed up on records relating to the incident that were made public by MSO last week, requesting a copy of the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) log. The CAD’s chronological log of events revealed that an MSO dispatcher included a dispatch code in their comments signaling their perspective that the accident possibly involved an intoxicated driver. 

Comments are entered into the log with timestamps. Some of the comments that were added by a dispatcher working the call included: 

7:38:35 FEMALE IS TRYING TO GET A MALE OUT OF THE CAR INTO HERS

7:38:44 THE MALE IS SLURRING HIS WORDS

7:38:53 FEMALE REFUSES TO GIVE THE LOCATION OF THE VEH (vehicle) 

7:39:23 FEMALE DOES NOT WANT LE (law enforcement) TO RESPOND 

7:39:30 SOUNDS LIKE POSSIBLE SIG 1 

7:39:54 SHE IS TELLING HIM TO GET IN THE BACK OF HER CAR 

"SIG 1" or signal code one, is a dispatch code identifying the incident as DUI or intoxicated driver related. 

Though the bodycam and 911 recordings have since been made public, the CAD log appeared to confirm much of the public’s perspective of what was seen and heard on the previously released records. The dispatchers working the call the night of the incident appeared to have awareness of the driver’s "slurring" and the commissioner’s wife moving the driver from his vehicle to the backseat of hers. 

Upon closer review of the bodycam footage of the first responding officer, Lt. Nicholas Pruitt, TBT noted a moment where Pruitt disabled the audio recording function of the bodycam device. At approximately 6 minutes and 25 seconds into the recording, Lt. Pruitt receives a call on what appears to be his cell phone. Upon answering, Pruitt is heard telling the person on the line, "Hold on a second," before turning off the audio recording function of his bodycam. 



At approximately 9 minutes and 5 seconds into Pruitt’s bodycam footage, the officer is seen turning back on the audio recording function of his bodycam while searching the commissioner’s vehicle. 

TBT reached out to MSO PIO, Randy Warren, to inquire about the moment captured by Lt. Pruitt’s bodycam. Mr. Warren informed TBT by phone that the call was received on Pruitt’s personal device and disabling the audio may have been done to negate the need to redact the contents of the personal call from the footage after the fact. 

On the phone call, Warren also clarified that at no time did Lt. Pruitt communicate with anyone in higher command while on the scene of the crash. Warren told TBT that it was not until the following day, April 21, that Sheriff Rick Wells became aware of the incident and that a county commissioner was involved. It was with this knowledge on April 21, that the 911 call and bodycam footage was reviewed, and an MSO investigation was opened into the incident. 

While the CAD software is a county-wide first responder communication tool, and the CAD log is accessible across agencies and responders, it is unknown whether either of the officers who responded to the April 20 crash site viewed the CAD log while on the scene. The sheriff's department was unable to immediately provide TBT with an answer as to whether either officer viewed the CAD at the time of the incident. 

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Reader Comments
Paul D. Smith
MAY 12, 2022  •  Rank has it's privledge. Best commission that money can buy.
Paul D. Smith
MAY 12, 2022  •  Rank has it's privledge. Best commission that money can buy.
Debby Pellom
MAY 11, 2022  •  A liar,cheater,and a DRUNK will into a bar ,never mind it's George Kruse . Wifey Jess is like him to cover up his drinking and driving..I ABSOLUTELY AGREE if this was a regular individual they would have been taken to j.g jail awaiting bail. THIS STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN. I guess the standards of the sheriff's department only apply to some individuals..I find it sad that officer Pruitt did NOT HONOR HIS OATH when becoming a police officer . THIS will happen again . Hopefully not to anyones family members or the public...and we are supposed to respect the law. MY GUESS would be that only applies to certain types as well. .Just another day of sweep it under the rug and corruption in manatee county. How sad is that
Cat Lubin
MAY 11, 2022  •  Faceplants his truck in to a tree.... what if it had been another vehicle, or a pedestrian?
Connie Morrow
MAY 11, 2022  •  TBT can determine if the entire time Pruitt was off mic it was a single call and what phone number(s) are related to that time.
Ralph Wiggum
MAY 11, 2022  •  There wasn't even an opportunity for citizens to complain about this at the public hearing yesterday. They had citizen comments on consent agenda, citizen comments on individual agenda items and citizen comments on future agenda items. No chance to discuss this. When a citizen did bring it up, Chairman Kevin Van Ostenbridge moves to end the conversation. How the heck are you supposed to express your opinion and frustrations to the County Commission if they don't even give you the opportunity?
Willow
MAY 11, 2022  •  Very easy to verify Lt. Pruitt's incoming call at the time of the incidence. If the number is completely unrelated to his job, then Mr. Warren has a valid point. If not, then you have even more evidence of foul play.
Jennifer White
MAY 11, 2022  •  Why is no one being held accountable? They have video and audio. Any regular tax payer would by locked up as they SHOULD BE for drunk driving. I guarantee if any of his family were injured by a drunk driver he would be all over getting it prosecuted. And The county commissioners didn’t even mention it at the meeting. So tired of manatee county corruption!
Paul Finer
MAY 11, 2022  •  The Manatee COUNTY Inspector General apparently has no interest in potential. misbehavior by a COUNTY Connissioner or the COUNTY Sheriff's office? What does the COUNTY Inspector General do?
Charlie
MAY 11, 2022  •  Kruse and wife: liars and cheats. Sheriff's dept.: corrupt.


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