Segments in this Video

A Death in St. Augustine: Introduction (02:08)


This segment orients viewers to the topic of murder and domestic violence within the police force with excerpts from the program. (Sponsors)

Officer Response to Shots Fired (04:38)

Michelle O'Connell's loved ones describe her personality. Hear Jeremy Banks' 911 call on September 2, 2010. Deputy Maynard responded to the call.

Possible Suicide? (02:06)

Hear interviews with law enforcement officers on scene the night of O'Connell's death. The general belief was that O'Connell committed suicide.

Cause of Death (02:06)

Police informed O'Connell's family that she committed suicide; they did not believe it. Hear the autopsy report findings.

Troubled Relationship (02:10)

O'Connell's family worked for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office; her brother introduced her to Banks. O'Connell decided to end their relationship the day she died.

Paramore Concert (02:04)

O'Connell attended the concert with her brothers and Banks. She sent cryptic text messages to several people. Banks told investigators O'Connell ended their relationship on the way home from the concert; she was dead less than 2 hours later.

Domestic Abuse? (03:49)

Teresa Woodward called police to tell them that O'Connell did not commit suicide. Banks describes his relationship with O'Connell. O'Connell's family accused Banks of being abusive; the sheriff's office did not give them an opportunity to express concern after O'Connell's death.

Police Determine Suicide (01:53)

Lt. Charles Bradley met with O'Connell's siblings several weeks after her death; the sheriff's office believed O'Connell killed herself.

"Behind the Blue Wall" (02:11)

Blogger Cloud Writer, began asking questions about O'Connell's death. O'Connell's family shared their thoughts on the website.

FDLE Investigates (03:04)

Sheriff David Shoar asked the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement to investigate O'Connell's death. Rusty Rodgers questions responding officers and O'Connell's family.

Evidence Analysis (02:02)

Reporter Walt Bogdanich investigates how police handle cases when there is a possibility of officer involved domestic violence. Jerry Findley discusses his findings during the FDLE investigation of O'Connell's death.

Witness Accounts (02:10)

FDLE learned that two women heard screams the night O'Connell died; they underwent lie detector tests. Dr. Frederick Hobin amended O'Connell's death certificate to reflect death by homicide.

O'Connell's Case Takes a Turn (01:58)

Investigators from attorney R.J. Larizza's office asked for further investigation of O'Connell's death. Larizza asked Hobin to wait to file the amended death certificate and asked to be recused; State Attorney Brad King took over the case.

Homicide or Suicide? (02:00)

King relied on the opinions of three experts who concluded O'Connell committed suicide; Hobin had changed his mind again. Bogdanich asks King about defensive wounds.

O'Connell's Case Declared Closed (01:58)

King told O'Connell's family that there was insufficient evidence for a crime. Sean O'Connell was fired from the sheriff's office.

Officer Involved Domestic Violence (02:32)

Dottie Davis discusses accountability when the police force investigates one of its own. Nationally, police departments have voluntary guidelines for addressing officer involved domestic abuse. Sarah Cohen analyzed the policies and procedures of 61 departments; only one agency fully implemented the recommended guidelines.

Treat a Death Investigation as a Homicide (03:10)

O'Connell's family believe the sheriff's office was blind to the possibility of a fatal domestic violence incident. Former NYPD Commander Vernon Geberth reviewed the sheriff investigation; he identifies "serious red flags."

Upside-down Gun Theory (02:23)

Dr. Predrag Bulic taped a photo of a gun to O'Connell's autopsy image. He demonstrates how he believes she held the gun to commit suicide; he has difficulty getting a gun out of a retention holster.

O'Connell's Eye Wound (02:24)

Forensic scientists Peter De Forest and Pete Diaczuk review Bulic's work and test King's theory about the gun recoil. De Forest believes O'Connell was battered before the fatal shot was fired.

Sheriff Shoar's Report to the Press (04:12)

Sheriff Shoar declines to do an on camera interview; he releases a report where he concedes his office made mistakes, defends his conclusions, and accuses Rusty Rogers of misconduct. The annual sheriff's department meeting becomes a show of support for Banks; Shoar announces Sean O'Connell's return to the force.

O'Connell's Death, Three Years Later (02:22)

O'Connell's family distrusts the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. Banks returned to active duty after a year of paid administrative leave; he is suing FDLE. Banks and Sean O'Connell receive a standing ovation at the annual sheriff's meeting. See additional resources

Credits: A Death in St. Augustine (01:57)

Credits: A Death in St. Augustine

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A Death in St. Augustine

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What can happen when the police face the possibility of domestic violence in their own ranks? On the night she broke up with her Florida deputy sheriff boyfriend, Michelle O'Connell was found dead from a gunshot in the mouth. Next to her was her boyfriend's semi-automatic service pistol. The sheriff's office called it suicide, but was it? FRONTLINE and The New York Times investigate this death of a young, single mother, and what can happen when the police face the possibility of domestic violence within their own ranks. Distributed by PBS Distribution.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL114696

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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