Rebeca Piccardo Sun Sentinel
Before dawn Friday, a rookie Broward Sheriff’s deputy who is accused of extorting sex from a security guard by threatening to charge him with possession of crack cocaine, walked out of Broward’s Main Jail, accompanied by a woman and using a sweatshirt to conceal his face.
Trazell McLeod, 20, who had only been with the agency for nine months, was fired Oct. 20, four days after he allegedly groped a guard, propositioned him and showed up at his home while on patrol in Pompano Beach, according to the arrest warrant.
During the encounter, the guard became concerned for his safety and ran away from McLeod, jumping a fence and hiding behind some bushes for 10 minutes until his wife picked him up, according to an arrest warrant.
When the guard and his family saw McLeod’s patrol car parked in their driveway, they drove past their home and spent the night in a hotel, the warrant said.
The next day, the security guard filed a complaint with the agency’s internal affairs investigators and helped them gather evidence against McLeod, the warrant said.
“It’s always disappointing to learn that a deputy who swore to serve and protect the public was only out to serve himself,” Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said in a statement Thursday, the same day McLeod was arrested.
McLeod is facing charges of extortion, official misconduct and tampering with or fabricating evidence. He was booked into Broward Main Jail Thursday afternoon. His bond was set at $2,500.
When he walked out of jail shortly before 5 a.m. Friday, reporters peppered him with questions. But McLeod said nothing as he and the woman accompanying him got into a white SUV and drove away.
The incident began around 11 p.m. on Oct. 16. McLeod went up to a security guard on foot patrol near the parking lot at Ali Cultural Arts building, 353 Hammondville Road.
McLeod, who claimed he was patrolling the area due to “a high volume” of drugs and prostitutes in the area, demanded to frisk the guard, the warrant said.
McLeod made the guard go up against a wall of the cultural arts building and searched him, touching him in his “private area” several times, the warrant said.
At one point, McLeod told the guard, “you gonna have to give me this,” while groping him, the warrant said.
McLeod then claimed he found drugs while searching the guard, the warrant said. He also told the guard he could be “in serious trouble” for having a gun on him and accused him of trying to pick up a prostitute earlier.
The guard denied having drugs or trying to soliciting any prostitutes and told McLeod he had a concealed weapons permit.
McLeod did not arrest the guard or call in dispatch. Instead, he made the guard move to an area away from surveillance cameras and demanded sex on a “consistent basis” or he’d charge him, the warrant said.
The two men ended up in the security office, where the guard found the opportunity to escape through a side door while McLeod went to get something from his patrol car, according to the warrant.
When the guard met with investigators the following day, he said he received phone calls and a text message from a blocked number, which was later traced back to an application on McLeod’s phone.
At the investigators’ request, the guard texted the blocked number, prompting a phone call from McLeod.
“You’re not in trouble…I don’t know why you ran,” McLeod said.
The guard then confronted McLeod over the phone while investigators recorded the conversation.
“You say I had drugs on me, you said I was trying to solicit prostitution. I was doing my job, and you confronted me with that situation, you grabbed on me and all that, you make me uncomfortable,” the guard said.
McLeod replied, “keep lying,” and hung up.
The arrest warrant notes that McLeod had completed his field training and had been working independently for about a month and a half before the incident.
Bradford Cohen, the attorney representing the guard, said he’s seeking justice for his client.
“We’ve handled multiple cases against policing agencies…when it comes to any of these cases, we try to represent the victim and be the victim’s voice,” said Cohen, of Fort Lauderdale law firm Cohen & McMullen.”We’re hoping [McLeod] is held responsible both criminally and civilly.”