UPDATE: Deputy pulled into Wellington station parking lot drunk, PBSO says


A Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy pulled into the parking lot of the Wellington district station hours after his shift, and supervisors quickly determined he was drunk and eventually arrested him, according to reports. 

Deputy Eric L. Swiger, 43, who has worked for the department since 2006, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, and was released on his own recognizance around 1 a.m. Wednesday, records show. 

"The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office holds its employees to the highest standards and never forgets about its duty to preserve the public's trust," the sheriff's office said in a statement. It said Swiger has been placed on administrative leave with pay. 

According to a PBSO report, about 3 p.m. Tuesday, PBSO Capt. Rolando Silva looked out his office window and saw Swiger, who'd gone off duty hours earlier, pull his personal 2002 Ford F-250 pickup into a space at the substation on 140th Avenue South near Pierson Road.

Silva said he watched as Swiger "drove in slowly and sat in his car for about a minute." 

The report said a captain and lieutenant confronted Swiger at the door and found he was unsteady and had a smell of alcohol. It said Swiger sat in Silva's office and said "this is so ridiculous" and uttered several profanities. 

Swiger said he'd "had a drink last night." His speech was slurred and slow and his eyes were watery. 

He told a DUI investigator he and his girlfriend had "finished a bottle of Tennessee Fire" at about 3 a.m., some 12 hours earlier, and that he was "probably just hung over." Tennessee Fire is a cinnamon-flavored version of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Swiger blamed his alcohol breath on his nicotine gum, the report said. 

It said Swiger refused to go back outside for a field-sobriety test, saying the investigator “didn't have PC” — probable cause — “for that.” The investigator then told Swiger he was being arrested and Swiger said the investigator didn't have probable cause for that, either. 

Swiger refused to stand and said that if deputies tried to handcuff him, he would "(expletive) all of us up," the report said. The investigators said it took some 20 minutes to persuade Swiger to submit to handcuffing. 

 According to affidavits, Swiger later refused to submit to a breath test, which could lead to a one-year suspension of his driver license.

Swiger spent nine years in law enforcement in Broward County before moving to PBSO. According to a 2007 Palm Beach Post feature, the Southern California native and U.S. Marine trained as a boxer for two decades and added mixed martial arts to his regimen in about 1997, about the time he moved to Florida. According to the website mixedmartialarts.com, he fought in four events from 2006 to 2008 and went 1-3. 

Staff writer Olivia Hitchcock contributed to this story.

This is a developing story. Please check back later.



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