A former Ocala Police officer admitted that he and another officer had been at his house “putting beers back” before a fatal motorcycle crash in September.
Shawn Sigler, who was assigned to the Community Policing Bureau, resigned from the police department in the midst of an internal affairs investigation regarding the Sept. 19 crash that killed off-duty 43-year-old Officer Daniel Wagner. Florida Highway Patrol reports indicated that Wagner was impaired – his blood alcohol content was .113 – and he was speeding and driving recklessly when he crashed on SW 95th Street Rd. Wagner was thrown from his white Harley-Davidson motorcycle and later transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham requested the internal affairs investigation on Sigler after he provided conflicting statements about his actions to Florida Highway Patrol troopers investigating the crash. Graham initiated the probe to determine the details of the incident and any potential violations of department police, an Ocala Police report states.
FHP investigators determined that someone may have been riding with Wagner when he crashed and after speaking with a witness at the scene and other Ocala police officers, they turned their attention to Sigler. They conducted an interview with him at his home two days after the crash, during which he said, “I know there’s gonna be an internal affairs investigation.”
Sigler told the investigators that Wagner was at his hour prior to the crash and they had been drinking. He also said he had been “drinking all day,” the report says.
One of the investigators told Sigler that a witness – an emergency room nurse who had stopped to help Wagner – reported seeing another motorcycle and the riders were wearing similar vests. But Sigler claimed that Wagner left his house alone and he didn’t find out about the crash until four in the morning. He claimed he had gone to bed after Wagner left and denied leaving with him several times, the report says.
At one point during the interview, Sigler suggested that Wagner may not have crashed but actually “committed suicide because of family issues.” An investigator told him the evidence at the crash scene didn’t support that claim and Sigler then admitted that he did leave his house and was riding with Wagner, the report says.
“We left here, OK, and I’m sorry I (expletive deleted) lied man,” Sigler is quoted in the report as saying.
He went on to tell investigators that he had suggested a good route for Wagner to ride and “he didn’t know what the (expletive deleted) I was talking about.” He said he had told him to go straight when he came to the light at State Road 200 but when he stopped at the red light, Wagner was no longer with him.
“I was like, ‘Well (expletive deleted), I guess he didn’t keep up or decided he didn’t want to (expletive deleted) motor with me,” Sigler said, adding that he then made a right turn and rode back to his house.
Sigler continued to deny seeing Wagner crash even after investigators confronted him with statements made by the ER nurse that another rider wearing a similar vest was at the scene of the crash.
“I lost my (expletive deleted) friend and how do I come out and say neither of us should’ve left here,” Sigler said. “That’s my fault.”
The nurse told investigators she witnessed the crash in her rearview mirror and quickly responded to help Wagner. She said she looked to her right and saw the other motorcyclist ride past her and leave the scene of the crash.
“I looked at him and I thought, ‘Clearly you just saw, who I assumed you were with, flip,” she said.
Eleven days after Sigler submitted his resignation, an FHP investigator spoke with him on the telephone and again offered him the opportunity to make a statement about the incident. But he “respectfully declined,” the report says.
The internal affairs report found that Sigler violated three of the police department’s policies, which included being truthful, obeying laws and ordinances and obeying Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission rules. It also pointed out that in speaking with FHP investigators, Sigler admitted to:
- Operating his own personal motorcycle while intoxicated; and
- Traveling at speeds that doubled posted limits, “both of which, if investigated, would have constituted criminal violations of Florida Statutes.”
The report referred to an Ocala Police Department directive that reads: “Members shall observe and obey all laws and ordinances that would result in the member facing misdemeanor or felony charges.” But since Sigler resigned during the internal affairs investigation, he won’t face any disciplinary actions from the police department, the report says.