One of the final witnesses that George Zimmerman’s defense team called Wednesday was a private investigator who had a 22-year career in law enforcement in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.
Dennis Root, 44, testified as an expert witness in self- and tactical defense at Zimmerman’s trial in Sanford. Root, who worked as an officer in Riviera Beach and Jupiter, and as a Martin County sheriff’s deputy, retired in August.
He is a licensed private investigator who runs two businesses based in Stuart called Tactical Advantage Solutions, LLC and Dennis Root and Associates, Inc.
According to his LinkedIn page, Root attended Indian River Community College. He is an expert in use of force in both civilian and law enforcement cases, according to his website.
Root began his career with Riviera Beach Police in October 1989. He resigned in September 1991 and began working with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.
After four months, Root resigned from the sheriff’s office and returned to Riviera Beach police in March 1992. He then resigned again in August 1993, according to a human resources spokeswoman with the department.
Root joined the Jupiter Police Department as a road patrol officer in December 1993, said police spokesman Sgt. Scott Pascarella.
Pascarella, who was a field training instructor at the time, said he trained Root in the inner-workings of the department.
During his time with the department, Root also served as one of the department’s defensive tactics instructors.
Pascarella said Root was “very dedicated to the profession” and “was always a professional.”
Root returned to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office as a full-time deputy in 1996.
During his time with the sheriff’s office, Root worked in the traffic division, uniform road patrol, criminal investigation division, K9 unit and as a drill instructor, said sheriff’s office spokeswoman Christine Weiss.
Root worked to crack cases including fraudulent use of credit cards and cases of identity theft.
He also trained fellow officers on Taser use.
In 2002, a Jensen Beach man filed a lawsuit against Root.
The lawsuit was from a 1999 driving incident in which Root attempted to pull over the man, Kent Machata, after he swerved out of his lane. Machata continued to drive without pulling over. Root treated the incident as a possible felony, meaning that deputies would order people out of the car at gunpoint.
When Machata stopped, Root thought that Machata had complied with orders, but other deputies jumped on the man. The sheriff’s office decided that Root handled the incident properly and shouldn’t be disciplined.
In 2003, Root told The Palm Beach Post one of his most interesting cases involved a woman who used her former roommate’s personal identification information to obtain painkillers.
The woman went to Martin Memorial Hospital South, gave her roommate’s name and said she was in a car accident and had head and knee pain.
Root got an X-Ray from that hospital visit and matched it with the woman’s previous medical records.