MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - A Manatee County Sheriff's deputy who was accused of putting a woman in a chokehold while off-duty at a concert in Tampa has resigned.
Robert Desch attended a Luke Bryan concert at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater in Tampa on August 2. While there around 8:30pm, the off-duty deputy allegedly got involved in a verbal fight between two women, separating them.
Video captured of the incident shows Desch continuing to argue with one of the two women and when a male friend attempted to intervene, the video reportedly shows Desch flinging the man backward before putting the woman in a chokehold.
According to a report from the sheriff's office, the woman punched Desch, attempting to get him to release her hair, which is when the video shows Desch falling to the ground and the man prying Desch's hand open to get him to release the woman's hair.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office investigated and determined Desch, who they say was intoxicated, was the primary aggressor and he was charged with simple battery. He was also barred from the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater for one year.
The investigation into Desch's alleged behavior began within three hours of the incident. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office sent the on-call investigator for the Professional Standards Division to Hillsborough County.
The investigator reviewed the video and found Desch evidence, including video of Desch nearly falling over, that the off-duty deputy was intoxicated. The investigator says after Desch was separated from the woman, strangers held him against the wall until security arrived and Desch could be seen continually trying to pull and push away from them.
The investigator conducted multiple interviews over the next several days, including witnesses, security at the concert venue, deputies in Hillsborough County, and those involved in the fight, and determined that Desch engaged in conduct unbecoming a deputy.
The sheriff’s office says Desch resigned on August 12.