Leila Marie Tarantino (DOB 10/24/1976) of Citrus Springs, Florida, claims that on July 17, 2011, she was pulled over by Citrus County Sheriff Department officers on South Columbia Street in Beverly Hills, Florida, for rolling through a stop sign, an offense she denies committing. She claims she fully stopped at the stop sign, then a police car did a U-turn to stop her vehicle. She says her two kids ages 4 and 1 were in the car with her and got a full view of the malevolent antics of the police as they pointed a gun in her face, removed her from her car, and put her in a squad car for two hours. She claims that when backup arrived, the cops then proceeded to strip search her along the side of the road, and forcibly pulled a tampon out of her in a search for contraband. She was then released with a traffic citation for violating restrictions on her driver’s license.
Here’s a copy of the lawsuit filed against the Sheriff Jeffrey Dawsy (who is alleged to have personally approved of the strip search in this incident), the department, the Citrus County government, and six other unnamed officers including five men and one woman. The female police officer is the one alleged to have pulled the tampon out from Tarantino.
According to Florida Statute 901.211, strip searches are unlawful for such a traffic stop:
(1) As used in this section, the term “strip search” means having an arrested person remove or arrange some or all of his or her clothing so as to permit a visual or manual inspection of the genitals; buttocks; anus; breasts, in the case of a female; or undergarments of such person.
(2) No person arrested for a traffic, regulatory, or misdemeanor offense, except in a case which is violent in nature, which involves a weapon, or which involves a controlled substance, shall be strip searched unless:
(a) There is probable cause to believe that the individual is concealing a weapon, a controlled substance, or stolen property; or
(b) A judge at first appearance has found that the person arrested cannot be released either on recognizance or bond and therefore shall be incarcerated in the county jail.
(3) Each strip search shall be performed by a person of the same gender as the arrested person and on premises where the search cannot be observed by persons not physically conducting or observing the search pursuant to this section. Any observer shall be of the same gender as the arrested person.
(4) Any body cavity search must be performed under sanitary conditions.
(5) No law enforcement officer shall order a strip search within the agency or facility without obtaining the written authorization of the supervising officer on duty.
(6) Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting any statutory or common-law right of any person for purposes of any civil action or injunctive relief.
Is Tarantino Truthful?
But did this incident happen as Tarantino describes? The Citrus County Sheriff Department says Tarantino is lying and making false accusations. They point to Tarantino’s extensive court history  including criminal history including a history of alleged domestic violence in 2011  and numerous traffic violations including hit and run driving , repeated DUIs , and repeatedly driving with a suspended license.
When you look through the court history, you see Tarantino has filed child support  and DV restraining order  actions actions a man named Nicholas Austin. From the court records in the rather decent online court records system that Citrus County runs, it appears she was not granted her DV restraining order and that it may have been pursued to get child custody as the civil counts against Austin were dismissed after hearing.
The cops also pointed to their arrest report for an incident on June 27, 2011,  which doesn’t match the date in the lawsuit but which says that Tarantino was pulled over for a DUI violating Florida code 316.193(1) with the arrest report as follows:
SUBMITTED BY: INDORATO, THOMAS 0712 (AR11121479)
DID DRIVE OR WAS IN ACTUAL PHYSICAL CONTROL OF A VEHICLE WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE, MODEL GLUE OR ANY SUBSTANCE CONTROLLED UNDER CHAPTER 893 OR CHAPTER 877.111 TO THE EXTENT HER NORMAL FACULTIES WERE IMPAIRED, IN VIOLATION OF FLORIDA’S STATE STATUTE 316.193(1).
ON 062711 AT APPROXIMATELY 2210 HOURS I ARRIVED AS BACKUP TO DEPUTY LAUGHLIN’S TRAFFIC STOP. UPON ARRIVAL, I MADE CONTACT WITH DEPUTY LAUGHLIN WHO ADVISED THAT HE OBSERVED THE DEFENDANT, MS LEILA TARANTINO, DRIVING EAST ON BEVERLY HILLS BOULEVARD WHERE HE OBSERVED A TRAFFIC VIOLATION. DEPUTY LAUGHLIN ACTIVATED HIS EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT AND INITIATED A TRAFFIC STOP WHERE THE FINAL RESTING PLACE WAS OSCEOLA AND BEVERLY HILLS BOULEVARD. SEE DEPUTY LAUGHLIN’S SUPPLEMENT FOR DETAILS.
I THEN POSITIONED MY VEHICLE BEHIND THE DEFENDANT’S VEHICLE WHERE DEPUTY LAUGHLIN’S VEHICLE WAS PREVIOUSLY LOCATED. I ACTIVATED MY OVERHEAD EMERGENCY LIGHTS ONLY ACTIVATING ONLY THE REAR EQUIPMENT. I POSITIONED THE VIDEO CAMERA AT THE DEFENDANT’S VEHICLE BEARING FLORIDA LICENSE PLATE AIDV69. THE DEFENDANT’S VEHICLE WAS CURRENTLY PARKED ON THE SHOULDER OF OSCEOLA BOULEVARD. I THEN MADE CONTACT WITH THE DEFENDANT WHO WAS CURRENTLY LEANING AGAINST THE REAR PORTION OF HER VEHICLE. UPON MAKING CONTACT WITH THE DEFENDANT, I DETECTED A STRONG ODOR OF AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE FROM APPROXIMATELY FOUR FEET AWAY. I ASKED THE DEFENDANT WHERE SHE WAS COMING FROM, TO WHICH SHE REPLIED BOB’S FOOD STORE AND STATED THAT SHE HAD NOT BEEN DRINKING TONIGHT.
WHILE SPEAKING WITH THE DEFENDANT, HER SPEECH WAS SLURRED; HER EYES WERE GLOSSY AND BLOODSHOT. I THEN ASKED THE DEFENDANT AGAIN IF SHE HAD ANY ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES OR TAKEN ANY MEDICATIONS, TO WHICH SHE REPLIED NO. I THEN ASKED THE DEFENDANT IF SHE WOULD SUBMIT TO A VARIETY OF FIELD SOBRIETY TASKS, TO WHICH SHE HESITANTLY STATED THAT SHE WOULD DO SO AND STATED THAT SHE WOULD BE ARRESTED ANYWAY. I THEN ASKED THE DEFENDANT TO STEP INTO THE ROADWAY TO PERFORM THE TASKS.
AT THAT TIME, I ASKED THE DEFENDANT IF SHE HAD ANY MENTAL OR PHYSICAL DISABILITIES THAT WOULD NOT ALLOW HER TO PERFORM ANY OF THE SOBRIETY TASKS, TO WHICH SHE STATED THAT SHE DID NOT, HOWEVER SHE HAD BACK PAIN. I ASKED THE DEFENDANT IF THE BACK PAIN WOULD IMPEDE HER FROM DOING THE TASKS, TO WHICH SHE SAID NO. I ASKED THE DEFENDANT IF SHE WORE GLASSES OR CONTACTS, TO WHICH SHE SAID CONTACTS AND THAT SHE WAS CURRENTLY WEARING THEM. I ASKED THE DEFENDANT WHAT HER HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION WAS, TO WHICH SHE STATED 12TH GRADE.
TASK ONE, FINGER TO NOSE. THIS TASK WAS EXPLAINED AND DEMONSTRATED TO THE DEFENDANT. DURING THIS TASK, THE DEFENDANT FAILED TO KEEP HER HANDS BY HER SIDE WHILE THE TASK WAS BEING DEMONSTRATED. I ADVISED THE DEFENDANT TO PLACE HER HANDS OUT SHOULDER HEIGHT TO EACH SIDE, TAKE HER RIGHT OR LEFT HAND WHEN ASKED, USING HER POINTER FINGER TOUCHING THE TIP OF HER NOSE WITH HER HEAD TILTED BACK. I ASKED THE DEFENDANT IF SHE UNDERSTOOD WHAT I HAD DEMONSTRATED, TO WHICH SHE ADVISED YES. I THEN ASKED THE DEFENDANT TO BEGIN THE TASK, AT WHICH TIME I ADVISED HER TO USE HER RIGHT HAND WITH HER HEAD TILTED BACK AND TOUCH THE TIP OF HER NOSE. THE DEFENDANT THEN TOOK HER RIGHT HAND AND FAILED TO TOUCH THE TIP OF HER NOSE AND PLACING HER FINGER ON THE BRIDGE OF HER NOSE. I THEN ASKED THE DEFENDANT TO USE HER LEFT POINTER FINGER, UPON DOING SO, THE DEFENDANT AGAIN TOUCHED THE BRIDGE OF HER NOSE BETWEEN HER EYES. I THEN ASKED THE DEFENDANT TO USE HER RIGHT POINTER FINGER AGAIN AND SHE AGAIN TOUCHED THE BRIDGE OF HER NOSE BETWEEN HER EYES AND FAILED ON ALL ATTEMPTS TO KEEP HER HEAD TILTED BACK. I THEN ADVISED THE DEFENDANT AGAIN THAT WHILE DOING THE TASK, TO TOUCH THE TIP OF HER NOSE AND NOT THE BRIDGE OF HER NOSE. I ASKED THE DEFENDANT TO USE HER LEFT POINTER FINGER TWICE AND BOTH TIMES SHE AGAIN TOUCHED THE BRIDGE OF HER NOSE AND NOT THE TIP.
TASK TWO, ONE LEG STAND. THIS TASK WAS EXPLAINED AND DEMONSTRATED TO THE DEFENDANT. AFTER THE DEMONSTRATION, I ASKED THE DEFENDANT IF SHE UNDERSTOOD, TO WHICH SHE REPLIED YES. I ADVISED THE DEFENDANT TO BEING HER TASK TO WHICH SHE USED HER ARMS FOR BALANCE AND THEN LIFTED HER RIGHT LEG APPROXIMATELY THREE INCHES OFF OF THE GROUND, DID NOT POINT HER TOE OUTWARDS. THE DEFENDANT THEN IMMEDIATELY PLACED HER RIGHT FOOT BACK ON THE GROUND AT WHICH TIME I ADVISED HER AGAIN THAT SHE NEEDS TO KEEP HER LEG OFF THE GROUND AND COUNT OUT LOUD. THE DEFENDANT AGAIN RAISED HER RIGHT LEG AND DID NOT COUNT OUT LOUD. THE DEFENDANT THEN PLACED HER RIGHT LEG BACK ON THE GROUND AND STATED THAT SHE COULD NOT DO IT. THE DEFENDANT THEN REMOVED HER SANDALS AND TRIED THE TASK ONE MORE TIME AND CONTINUED TO RAISE HER FOOT AND AGAIN PLACE IT ON THE GROUND MULTIPLE TIMES WITHOUT COUNTING OUT LOUD. THE DEFENDANT STATED “I CAN NOT DO IT” AND STATED THAT SHE WAS DONE WITH THE TASK.
TASK THREE, HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS. PRIOR TO PERFORMING THIS TASK, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE DEFENDANT HAD NO PROBLEMS WITH HER EYES. DURING THIS TASK, THERE WAS EQUAL TRACKING AND EQUAL PUPIL SIZE IN BOTH THE LEFT AND RIGHT EYES. THERE WAS LACK OF SMOOTH PURSUIT IN BOTH THE LEFT AND RIGHT EYES. THERE WAS DISTINCT SUSTAINED HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS AT MAXIMUM DEVIATION IN BOTH THE LEFT AND RIGHT EYES. ALSO, THERE WAS ONSET OF HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS PRIOR TO FORTY-FIVE DEGREES IN THE LEFT AND RIGHT EYE.
TASK FOUR, WALK AND TURN. THIS TASK WAS EXPLAINED AND DEMONSTRATED TO THE DEFENDANT AND ASKED IF SHE UNDERSTOOD, TO WHICH SHE SAID YES. WHILE DEMONSTRATING THIS TASK, THE DEFENDANT FAILED TO KEEP HER ARM COMPLETELY BY HER SIDE. THE DEFENDANT THEN PERFORMED THE TASK AND WHILE TAKING THE STEPS FORWARD CONTINUED THROUGH ELEVEN STEPS INSTEAD OF THE NINE INSTRUCTED TO TAKE AND DID NOT TOUCH HEEL TO TOE ON ALL STEPS THAT SHE TOOK. UPON THE DEFENDANT COMPLETING THE ELEVENTH STEP SHE ASKED WHAT TO DO NEXT. I AGAIN ADVISED THE DEFENDANT TO TAKE THREE SMALL STEPS IN A TURN AND CONTINUE NINE STEPS BACK AND UPON COMPLETING THE NINE STEPS BACK TO TAKE THREE MORE SMALL STEPS TO TURN AND FACE ME. THE DEFENDANT CONTINUED WITH ONLY TAKING ONE STEP IN THE TURN, CONTINUED BACK TO WHERE SHE STARTED TAKING TEN STEPS BACK WITHOUT TOUCHING HEEL TO TOE ON ANY STEPS. UPON COMPLETING THE TENTH STEP, THE DEFENDANT TURNED TOWARDS ME AND AGAIN ASKED WHAT TO DO NEXT. I ADVISED THE DEFENDANT AGAIN TO TAKE THREE SMALL STEPS AND TURN TOWARDS ME. I ASKED THE DEFENDANT IF SHE UNDERSTOOD, TO WHICH SHE REPLIED YES. THE DEFENDANT AGAIN ONLY TOOK ONE STEP IN THE TURN AND FAILED TO KEEP HER ARMS BY HER SIDE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE DEMONSTRATION.
AT THAT TIME, I ASKED THE DEFENDANT TO PLACE HER HANDS BEHIND HER BACK WHERE SHE WAS PLACED UNDER ARREST FOR DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE. PRIOR TO BEING PLACED IN THE REAR OF MY PATROL VEHICLE, THE DEFENDANT WAS PATTED DOWN FOR WEAPONS OR CONTRABAND, WHICH MET WITH NEGATIVE RESULTS. THE DEFENDANT WAS SECURED IN THE REAR OF MY PATROL VEHICLE AND TRANSPORTED TO THE CITRUS COUNTY DETENTION FACILITY FOR BOOKING AND PROCESSING.
THE DEFENDANT WAS READ HER MIRANDA WARNINGS AGENCY PRINTED VIA CARD. I ASKED THE DEFENDANT IF SHE UNDERSTOOD HER RIGHTS AND IF SHE STILL WISHED TO SPEAK TO ME, TO WHICH SHE SAID “I DON’T’ WANT TO TALK TO FUCKING ANYBODY AND THAT THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE CAN GO FUCK THEMSELVES”.
I WAS ADVISED BY DEPUTY LAUGHLIN WHO ADVISED THAT AT 23.5 OZ FOUR LOKO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE WAS FOUND LYING ON THE PASSENGER’S S FLOORBOARD. THE AREA THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE WAS LOCATED, HAD A PUDDLE OF THE BEVERAGE SOAKED INTO THE CARPET ON THE FLOORBOARD AREA. UPON FEELING THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CAN, IT WAS FOUND TO BE SLIGHTLY COLD TO THE TOUCH. THE CAN WAS PACKAGED IN A BROWN PAPER BAG AND LATER TURNED IN TO EVIDENCE. A PROPERTY RECEIPT FOR THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CAN WAS COMPLETED AND LATER TURNED IN TO RECORDS.
PRIOR TO LEAVING THE SCENE, THE DEFENDANT’S VEHICLE WAS LEFT WITH DEPUTY LAUGHLIN LATER TO BE TOWED BY PRECISION TOWING. DEPUTY LAUGHLIN COMPLETED A TOW SHEET WHICH WAS LATER TURNED IN TO RECORDS. I THEN TOOK POSSESSION OF THE DEFENDANT’S PURSE PER HER REQUEST WHICH WAS LATER TURNED OVER TO CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA STAFF.
THE DEFENDANT WAS THEN TRANSPORTED TO THE CITRUS COUNTY DETENTION FACILITY WITHOUT INCIDENT. THE DEFENDANT WAS TURNED OVER THE CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA STAFF WHERE SHE WAS READ HER IMPLIED CONSENT. THE DEFENDANT AGREED TO SUBMIT TO THE APPROVED TEST OF HER BREATH WITH THE TEST RESULTS BEING .094 AND .089.
THE DEFENDANT WAS CHARGED WITH DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE WITH A $1,000.00, BOND PER THE BOND SCHEDULE.
THE DEFENDANT WAS ISSUED A FLORIDA DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE UNIFORM TRAFFIC CITATION NUMBER 4403XDX6 WITH A MANDATORY COURT APPEARANCE OF 071411 AT 1300 HOURS AT THE CITRUS COUNTY COURTHOUSE, WHICH WAS TURNED OVER TO THE CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA STAFF TO PLACE IN HER PROPERTY.
A COPY OF THE DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE PACKET, DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE CITATION AND THE DEFENDANT’S DRIVER’S LICENSE WAS LATER TURNED IN TO RECORDS. A COPY OF THE VIDEO AND A PROPERTY RECEIPT WAS TURNED IN TO EVIDENCE.
Apparently the July 17, 2011, traffic stop didn’t rise to the level of being documented in public arrest records.
The next arrest of Tarantino after June 27 was on September 3, 2011,  for domestic battery in violation of Florida code 784.03(1)(A)(1) which is described as “actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other.” Unfortunately, Florida law hides information on such crimes from public view.
So how is the public or a court to know what really happened here? Is Tarantino in the wrong, are the cops lying because they abused her, or are both in the wrong?
Tarantino Case Shows Why Video Recording Is Important And Why Prosecution of False Reporters and Perjurers Is Necessary
This case is a great example of everything that is wrong with the US legal system involving family law and police misconduct. A common police department mission these days is to suppress photography and video recording by harassing the public, often illegally and nearly always in violation of any reasonable set of ethics. But in this case, such recordings could protect the cops against a possibly false accusation made by what appears to be a very troubled woman.
Because we know of the damages caused to people by false accusations and by police harassment and how common both are, it is very hard to determine what happened because both appear plausible and there’s a lack of information required to understand what really did happen.
We all know that some cops can be abusive tyrants and other cops often cover up after them. But were these cops abusive as Tarantino claims? If they are smart, the should have video surveillance of the entire traffic stop incident that will clear this up. If they are stupid or are being dishonest, they won’t.
Citrus County Sheriff Department, where’s the video of the incident? Do you have video cameras in your cars or not? From the June 27 arrest report, it appears you do. If you do, post the video so the public can see it.
If Tarantino is a liar against the cops in such an extreme fashion, then that probably means she’s a liar in other areas, too. She clearly has a substance abuse problems given multiple DUI offenses and convictions. Put two and two together and you have to wonder if she’s got mental health problems such as a personality disorder, too.
So these observations raise the question did she falsely accuse Nicholas Austin of domestic violence to gain an advantage in a child custody and child support battle in family law court? Again, we can’t know without reliable witnesses or recordings to establish what actually happened. Court records on Nicholas Austin  show that he has a lot of legal problems similar to those of Tarantino plus some that differ such as illegal drug sales  and attempts to nail him for paternity of a child that apparently was not his .
We know well that cops and courts almost never charge or punish people who file false police reports or lie in court to harm another person. If this is what Tarantino did to Austin, she should have been prosecuted for her lying. Having a successful prosecution against her for perjury or filing a false police report would make it a lot more clear she could be lying against the cops.
If she is lying against the cops here, then she should be prosecuted for perjury not just as retaliation for what what is doing to waste public resources but also as a protection for the people she, if she is indeed a liar, will almost assuredly lie against in the future. If she is lying and the government fails to prosecute her for it, they become accessories in the harm to anybody she lies against in the future.
If it turns out Tarantino is a liar, then this case shows that when the cops and courts fail to protect people from false allegations and reward those false allegations as they usually do in family law cases, they may find themselves subject to very damaging false allegations themselves.
So how does it feel, Sheriff Dawsy, to be accused of such abuses and atrocities if they are not true? Think about that, and next time some lying scum files a false police report against an innocent person then you be sure to have your cops arrest and charge that person with filing a false police report as they deserve.
Seeking More Info From Sheriff Jeff Dawsy
In the interest of getting more information about this case, I’ve emailed Sheriff Jeff Dawsy the following and am awaiting a reply:
To: [email protected]
Subject: Some questions on the Tarantino lawsuit against you
I’ve heard you have issued a statement regarding the Tarantino lawsuit. In the interests of letting the public know your version of events, could you please forward us a copy?
Also, I have some questions regarding your department’s use of video surveillance systems at traffic stops.
Are your vehicles equipped with cameras and/or audio recording devices?
Was the recording equipment operating on the cars involved in the July 17, 2011, stop of Leila Tarantino?
Are the video and audio recordings from these cameras available to the public? If so, where can the public find them?
If Tarantino’s allegations against your department are false, such videos could go a long way towards defending you and your officers.
Additionally, if her allegations are false, this is precisely why your department, the DA, and courts should be charging and punishing offenders for filing false police reports and engaging in perjury designed to harm others. From what I found reviewing court records, it appears that Tarantino may have a history of filing what appear to be false DV allegations against the father of one of the children, Nicholas Austin. Surely you can understand that somebody who lies and is rewarded by the cops and/or courts for such lies is encouraged to lie again. So if she’s lying against you, you should press the DA to prosecute her for perjury to protect not just yourselves but any future victims of such lying.