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Fla. cop fired over link to home invasion

Officer allegedly used a law enforcement database to retrieve the address of a man feuding with her cousin

By Anthony Cormier
Sarasota Herald Tribune

SARASOTA — A Sarasota police officer used a law enforcement database to retrieve the address of a man feuding with her cousin, which led to a violent home invasion attack earlier this year, according to an internal affairs report released on Friday.

Sarasota police officer Katrina Young was fired Friday after a yearlong inquiry showed that she misused a driver’s license database and later lied to detectives investigating the home invasion.

The internal affairs investigation showed that Young violated 13 police policies, but she will not be charged with a crime.

The criminal investigation was dashed by prosecutors who said that they did not have enough evidence to prove that Young obstructed justice or knowingly misused the driver’s license system -- despite a sworn statement from her cousin that she gave the address to him days before the home invasion.

Young’s termination marks the end of a winding inquiry that took root in a brewing rivalry between two men in Newtown -- Terrance Bryant and Robert Fordham.

Violence between the duo bubbled over in late 2009, when someone firebombed homes belonging to Fordham’s relatives.

Believing Bryant was the arsonist, Fordham reportedly set out for revenge. On Feb. 1, police say he stormed a home in North Port, put a gun to the head of a 15-year-old girl and a knife to the throat of a 9-year-old girl to find their father, Bryant.

Days later, Fordham was charged with six felonies.

During a recorded phone call, however, detectives learned that Fordham found Bryant’s family through a man named Whizz Harris -- Young’s cousin.

Harris told police that he called Young on her cell phone while she was on duty and told her of the brewing rivalry between Fordham and Bryant.

Young used the driver’s license database to look up Bryant, according to the internal affairs report.

Young says she only used the system to find out if Bryant had any active warrants and that she did not give her cousin the North Port address. She said that her cousin retrieved the address by looking at a public Web site that shows who has been arrested in Sarasota County.

“I explained to Whizz that we’re not allowed to give out that information at all, that I would run his name to see if he had a warrant and if there is anyway we could pick him up,” Young told investigators.

But officials say Young clicked on a box indicating that she wanted to pull up the address for Bryant and that it returned a home on “Tailwood Terrace” -- a misspelling for Talwood Terrace.

During his interrogation with police, Harris told officers that Young gave him the address on “Tailwood Terrace.”

Sarasota police also found that Young had used the system to look up others who were not involved in law enforcement investigations: her ex-boyfriend and police officers.

Young could not be reached late Friday. A police spokesman did not immediately return a phone call.

While the case appears to be finished in Sarasota, others have pressed for a deeper investigation by state officials. Ivey Bryant, who was home with her children in North Port during the home invasion, says that she is disappointed and angry that prosecutors chose not to press criminal charges.

Copyright 2010 Sarasota Herald-Tribune Co.