Ex-officer: Man killed in crash out to kill him


Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 11:35 p.m.

Facts

AT A GLANCE: Inquiries under way

  • The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. The Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are reviewing the shooting allegations. An internal investigation also is under way into the accident.

  • A former Department of Corrections officer said a man, killed after his vehicle collided with a Union County deputy's car Saturday night, came to his home before the crash and said he would kill him.
    Randy Hicks, 35, said Bobby Todd, 45, came to his home at 7690 SW County Road 241 at about 8:30 p.m., identified himself and threatened him. Two shots were fired from Todd's pickup, and Hicks said he fired back.
    But Todd's brother, Ricky Todd, 48, questioned allegations his brother shot any gun and deputies' handling of the pursuit that followed, ending in a fiery crash that injured another deputy and killed Todd and another man, believed to be a hitchhiker.
    Officers sought medical records Tuesday for Robert William Flanagan, 49, of Cincinnati, to confirm he had been the hitchhiker riding with Todd, said Flanagan's relatives in Ohio. Identification found by investigators at the crash listed Flanagan, Sheriff's Office Capt. Garry Seay said.
    Officers don't have any information, at this point, that Flanagan was involved in the incident at Hicks' home, Seay said. He could not say when Bobby Todd, who deputies confirmed was the driver, picked up the hitchhiker.
    A report that shots had been fired at Hicks' home led to the search for Bobby Todd, who also was wanted on warrants out of Florida and Georgia, Seay said.
    Deputies were called to the house about an altercation between Todd and Hicks, Seay said.
    "Bobby had fired shots, and Randy returned shots," he said.
    But Ricky Todd said his brother didn't carry a gun. Investigators were still trying to locate a weapon as of Tuesday evening.
    He also said witnesses who saw the pursuit reported the deputy didn't have the patrol car's lights activated. His brother, he said, didn't know he was being followed by an officer and could have been in fear for his life, thinking he was being pursued by the person who had shot at him at the home.
    Bobby Todd had been involved in another incident with friends of Hicks about a month ago, Seay said.
    On Saturday, he showed up at Hicks' home at about 8:30 p.m. He spun the pickup in the yard at the house before leaving, before returning about five minutes later, and making "doughnuts" in the yard for a second time. Then shots were fired, Seay said.
    Hicks' version is similar, adding that Bobby Todd drove the pickup at him after trying to get him to come out to the vehicle.
    "He was just driving 60 mph through my yard, directly at me," he said.
    Hicks said he fired back twice. Hicks said he didn't know why Bobby Todd came to his house. He was involved with an incident with Hicks' friend in November, and Hicks said his father had worked for the Department of Corrections and had been involved with a criminal case of one of Bobby Todd's relatives. Hicks said, when he was an officer, he saw Bobby Todd at an area prison but he had "no dealings" with him. Bobby Todd's prior criminal history included charges of fraud, grand theft and robbery, according to corrections records.
    Although Seay confirmed that deputies had been told shots were fired and Bobby Todd fired first, he said those details remain under investigation.
    Seay defended the deputy's pursuit, saying it was "a textbook case" and that lights and sirens on the patrol cars were activated.
    Deputy Ken Smith spotted Bobby Todd after the report at Hicks' home, and the pursuit began on State Road 18, Seay said. The pickup turned off on Light Plant Road with Smith following. Lee drove on State Road 121 in an attempt to assist with the pursuit when his car and the pickup collided.
    The two vehicles erupted in flames. Fuel containers in the truck may have contributed to the blaze.
    Lee remained hospitalized Tuesday at Shands at the University of Florida, according to the Sheriff's Office. His injuries include multiple breaks in his right leg and burns on his left leg and arm. Lee is expected to undergo additional surgery later in the week.
    Smith also was injured when he pulled Lee from his car.
    The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, Seay said. The Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are reviewing the shooting allegations. An internal investigation also is under way into the accident.
    Seay also said Bobby Todd was wanted in Polk County for stealing the pickup he had been driving.
    Bobby Todd's brother denied the pickup had been stolen.
    And, Ricky Todd noted, his brother had mental health problems and had been on medication. Deputies knew that and should have backed off on pursuing his brother, he said.
    "The Sheriff's Office and everybody here knew he had problems," he said. If the officer had not chased him, "He would have still been here alive right now."
    Seay said, "We certainly didn't want anybody to get hurt in this ordeal." But, he said, "We had a job to do, and we had to do it. We felt like, if we didn't try to stop him, we thought the situation would have gotten worse."
    Lise Fisher can be reached at (352) 374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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