(As originally published with bells and whistles, Wed, November 2nd 2022, 4:30 AM EDT)
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — A shooting in a parking lot caused two police officers to quickly scatter. One even called 911. Coworkers had to investigate.
The two were actually targets late Sunday night, May 8, outside the Home Depot on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard.
The arrest report said the victim “stated that she has been romantically involved with a married man, who she identified as [name], and his wife Sandra Osborne for approximately one (1) year.”
Sandra Osborne, 49, was accused in the shooting, but this case gets even more complicated.
The arrest report did not say that her husband was the West Palm Beach police officer in the passenger seat and the person described as “victim” was his police officer mistress.
Besides the alleged affair, a police officer who wasn’t even on patrol tried to help her, and he got into trouble with Internal Affairs.
According to the report, “[The two officers] met in the Home Depot parking lot to spend time together. [The victim] observed a car she did not recognize [description] driving quickly and erratically toward her vehicle. Sandra exited the passenger front seat of the vehicle with what [the victim] described as an all-black compact pistol, which Sandra moments later fired into the side of [the victim]’s vehicle. [The victim] was able to drive out of the parking lot to safety and dialed 911.”
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The Internal Affairs investigation report gave more detail about what happened next. CBS12 News put the pieces together.
Sandra Osborne got back in the car driver’s side and drove away. The department sent a be-on-the-lookout, and an officer stopped her nearby, on Hank Aaron Drive. Four other officers got there, shortly after.
The arrest report said, “[The victim] positively identified Sandra as the individual who had fired a gun into her vehicle.”
It also said, “Osborne likewise described an ongoing dispute with [the victim] and [her husband] over her husband’s infidelity. Sandra said that she was out looking for [her husband] and [his mistress], suspecting that they were somewhere in the area of Home Depot, as Sandra lived in that area. When Sandra arrived at Home Depot, she recognized [the victim]’s car and directed her sister, who was driving [another car], to ‘block her in,’ ostensibly so Sandra could confront [the victim] and [her husband]. Sandra loaded a magazine into her .22 caliber black-in-color semi-automatic pistol, then removed it from the holster. Sandra admitted to possessing the firearm at the time it discharged but said that she was not aiming the firearm at anyone at the time, and believed the firearm discharged accidentally. Sandra said that during the ensuing physical altercation with her husband [name] he was able to take the gun and fled the area in his own vehicle.
“[The victim]’s vehicle [description] had a visible defect on the driver side quarter panel, just below the hood. Based on my training and experience, as well as [a second other officer]’s training and experience, I recognized the defect as being an inward penetration of a firearm projectile.”
Sandra Osborne was charged with assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, and shooting into an occupied vehicle.
Osborne was booked on May 9 at 4:28 a.m. and released in lieu of $3,00 bond later that day, at 6:23 p.m.
But what happened between the time she was pulled over and the time police took her away became the subject of a detailed Internal Affairs investigation.
Something unusual happened.
According to the investigative report, “Sandra Osborne advised officers on scene she was on the phone with Ofc. Padgett. Ofc. Padgett was on Sandra Osborne’s phone the majority of the encounter, talking to Sandra Osborne and often heard on speakerphone.
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“Ofc. Padgett appeared to be providing Sandra Osborne ongoing and incorrect legal advice such as ‘they don’t have probable cause to go in your car.’ This continued until [a sergeant] arrived on scene. [The sergeant] took Sandra Osborne’s cell phone away and placed it into evidence, pending a warrant.”
That same night, a lieutenant wrote to Internal Affairs, “alleging Ofc. Covelle Padgett compromised a criminal case actively being investigated by members of the West Palm Beach Police Department.”
The report said the encounter with Sandra Osborne was captured on officers’ body-worn cameras.
“Sandra Osborne’s vehicle was stopped, and the front driver side door was opened,” the report said. Then, it described Osborne driving, another woman in the passenger seat, and “There were four small children in the backseat of the vehicle.”
That other woman was her sister, based on the arrest report. The children were not mentioned.
Then, it said, “Sandra Osborne is seen and heard talking on her cell phone. [One officer] stated, ‘Hey Miss Osborne, how are you.’ Sandra Osborne remained on the phone while asking for [that officer] and [a second one’s] name.
“[The first officer] asked Sandra Osborne if he could speak to her outside her vehicle. Sandra Osborne told [the officer] Ofc. Padgett was on the phone with her.
“Sandra Osborne stepped outside the vehicle and [another officer] conducted a ‘pat down’ of Sandra Osborne for any potential weapons before speaking to her outside the vehicle. Sandra Osborne remained on her cell phone. Sandra Osborne placed her phone on speaker.
“Ofc. Padgett is heard on the phone asking which officers were on scene. Sandra Osborne named off all the officers on scene.
“Ofc. Padgett asked why the officers conducted a ‘pat down.’ Sandra Osborne explained the officer wanted to make sure she did not have anything on her, due to the allegations.
“[An officer] asks Sandra Osborne if there were any weapons in the vehicle. Ofc. Padgett is heard immediately stating ‘no.’ Sandra Osborne replied there were no weapons inside her vehicle.
“[An officer] attempted to ask Sandra Osborne what happened. Ofc. Padgett stated, ‘were not fitting to do all this.’
Ofc. Padgett stated, ‘no that’s not probable cause.’
“[An officer] explained to Sandra Osborne that there was an allegation of shots being fired in the parking lot. Ofc. Padgett stated, ‘no that’s not probable cause.’”
Other officers explained they were asking everyone in the car to get out, “in the event there were any weapons inside. Ofc. Padgett stated, don’t let them search the car, they don’t have probable cause to go into that car.’”
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The report said Osborne asked the officers to get her glasses from the front seat. One did, and “Ofc. Padgett stated, ‘Sandra don’t let them search that car.’”
Ofc. Padgett was going to call her back.
Then she gave her phone to the other woman who continued the conversation with the speaker off, and then gave it back to Osborne, “telling her that Ofc. Padgett was going to call her back.”
Osborne got two other phone calls but didn’t place them on speaker. She was heard bringing up one officer’s name in a conversation. Then, the sergeant arrived, and Osborne asked for his name while on the phone. The sergeant “told Sandra Osborne to hang up the phone and the phone would be collected as evidence. Officers retrieved Sandra Osborne’s phone. Sandra Osborne was eventually handcuffed and placed inside a patrol vehicle.”
She pleaded not guilty, and her criminal case is still open.
Another sergeant conducted the Internal Affairs investigation into Ofc. Padgett and wrote that he interviewed everyone in law enforcement who was at the scene.
One officer said he saw Osborne talking on her phone. He “did not hear Sandra Osborne’s conversation but noticed it was a male’s voice on the phone. [The officer] did hear the male caller tell Sandra Osborne not to get out of her vehicle because the officers on scene do not have probable cause.”
It appeared Ofc. Padgett was giving Sandra Osborne advice while on the phone.
The second “asked her to step outside her vehicle. Sandra Osborne was on her phone at the time, and she told [the officer] she was on the phone with Ofc. Padgett. … [The officer] heard Ofc. Padgett ask why the officers were telling everyone to exit Sandra Osborne’s vehicle. [The officer] also noted he observed Sandra Osborne’s phone and the name Covelle on the screen of the phone.”
The third officer said Sandra Osborne told her “she was on the phone with Ofc. Padgett. Sandra Osborne retrieved all the names of the officers on scene. [This officer] stated it appeared Ofc. Padgett was giving Sandra Osborne advice while on the phone.”
The sergeant at the scene said one of the officers told him “Sandra Osborne was on the phone with Ofc. Padgett. [The sergeant] told Sandra Osborne to get off the phone, then retrieved her phone for evidence purposes.”
And another officer “heard Sandra Osborne call all the officer names out while on the phone.”
He stated Sandra Osborne is his cousin.
On June 2, the investigator met with Ofc. Padgett and a union lawyer in the Internal Affairs office. He got the connection between the officer and the suspect.
According to the investigative report, “He stated Sandra Osborne is his cousin. Ofc. Padgett noted that Sandra Osborne called him the day of the incident while he was at home. Ofc. Padgett explained Sandra Osborne was telling him she was stopped by the police. She explained to him that her husband was cheating on her with another woman, and that female was stalking her.
“Ofc. Padgett admitted he did not have all the facts in the case. Ofc. Padgett explained he was also having a conversation with his family at home, at the same time he was on the phone with Sandra Osborne. When asked about why he said ‘No’ to [one officer]’s question regarding weapons in Sandra Osborne’s vehicle, Ofc. Padgett believed at the time he was saying no to a family member, not [the officer’, but did not remember saying ‘No.’ I asked Ofc. Padgett why he stated, ‘Don’t let them search the car they don’t have probable cause.’ Ofc. Padgett based that statement on what Sandra Osborne told him regarding the facts in the case.
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“Ofc. Padgett explained he asked for all the officers’ names on scene because he wanted to try and reach out to one of the officers and get the truth. Ofc. Padgett stated he wanted to make sure Sandra Osborne was telling him the truth because he stated, ‘she’s not the most upstanding citizen.’
Ofc. Padgett was asked if he would have done anything differently in this case
“Ofc. Padgett admitted it was inappropriate for him to interject himself into the incident but did not believe his actions compromised the case. Ofc. Padgett was asked if he would have done anything differently in this case; he stated he would have reached out to one of the officers.”
There were two rule violations alleged against Ofc. Padgett:
1. Standard of Conduct. Members will not engage in conduct on or off-duty which adversely affects the morale or efficiency of the Department or engage in conduct on or off duty which may destroy public respect for the member and/or the Department and/or destroy confidence in the operation of the municipal service.
2. Compromising Criminal Case. Members will not engage in any of the following conduct.
A. Interference with the surface of lawful process.
B. Interference with the attendance or testimony of witnesses through coercion, bribery, or other means.
C. Withholding information on criminal activity.
D. Attempt to have any traffic citation or a Notice to Appear reduced, avoided, or stricken from the calendar.
E. Taking any action which will interfere with the efficiency or integrity of the administration of criminal justice. Attempt to have any criminal charges reduced, avoided, and/or case stricken from the calendar. Members having knowledge of such interference will inform a superior officer. Any exception to this prohibition must be approved by the Chief of Police.
The investigative report was signed on June 3.
Both allegations were sustained, and, “On June 16, Police Chief Frank Adderley ordered an 80-hour suspension” for Ofc. Covelle Padgett.