Explaining to Historic City News editor Michael Gold this afternoon, Commander Charles E. Mulligan made clear that continued controversy in the 2010 suicide of 24-year-old Michelle O’Connell has caused Sheriff Shoar to review the entire investigation into the emotional tragedy that touched several members of his agency — however, the suicide investigation has been completed and the case is closed.
Polarizing feelings have remained between family members, co-workers, and some members of the public since the heartbreaking incident was first reported on September 2, 2010. O’Connell lived with her boyfriend, Deputy Jeremy Banks, who was in the home with her at the time investigators say she took her life.
“She shot herself with Deputy Banks’ service weapon,” Mulligan told Historic City News. “Our detectives did a thorough investigation into the death, both at the scene, in interviews, including an independent post mortem examination by the District 23 Medical Examiner’s Office.”
Aside from rumors, opinions, speculation and conjecture, the Sheriff’s Office holds to the position that, however painful the results of the investigation are to accept, there is no evidence that supports any finding other than O’Connell’s death as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
For some, however, acceptance will not come. Some members of O’Connell’s family believe that Banks shot his girlfriend when he learned that she intended to take her young child and move out of his home. Banks remained on an administrative leave while the death was investigated; but, since he was exonerated, he has returned to work in the patrol division.
The yet unproven accusations against Banks, which persist long after he was cleared of any wrongdoing, interfere with his life and the performance of his duty, according to Mulligan. Historic City News has discovered more than two websites where the hostilities of anonymous posters continue to escalate — calling for Banks’ arrest and the sheriff’s resignation, a conclusion that is not likely in this situation.
Sheriff Shoar forwarded critical comments to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey on Tuesday that focused on the reliability of some statements and actions of FDLE agents conducting their part of the investigation that cleared Deputy Banks. Those comments have been forwarded to the Office of Executive Investigation;
“who will review the complaint to determine its validity”, Bailey told reporters.
Sensationalized reports that Mulligan says will no doubt be forthcoming, will only serve to rekindle the feelings of sorrow and loss for Michelle O’Connell’s grieving family members and her many friends. “We are not re-opening the investigation.”