Accused of official misconduct after ordering the “unarrest” of a city councilman and firing a police captain who refused to alter the arrest report, a Florida police chief resigned Friday.
On August 29, 2021, Riviera Beach City Councilman Douglas Lawson was arrested for simple domestic battery after he was recorded on surveillance video at the Marina Grande condominiums shoving his then-fiancée Jade Calloway in the elevator and pulling her out of a car in the parking garage. According to recent findings from an Internal Affairs investigation and an independent inquiry, Riviera Beach Police Chief Nathan Osgood violated protocol by ordering Captain Rochelet Commond to alter his probable cause affidavit and deciding to “unarrest” Lawson with no direct on-scene knowledge and with limited information.
Capt. Commond was terminated for insubordination after writing in the affidavit that he was ordered to “unarrest” the councilman. Commond was later reinstated and placed on administrative leave for more than five months.
Investigations from an Internal Affairs investigation and an independent firm were made public on Friday. Both reports found that Commond did not commit insubordination, while Chief Osgood “deviated from proper procedure.”
Osgood submitted his resignation on Friday morning. The interim police chief will be Major Joshua Lewis, who has been with the department for 25 years.
On Friday, John Kazanjian, president of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association (PBA), released the following statement: “The PBA has always believed that Riviera Beach Police Chief Nathan Osgood committed official misconduct when he personally intervened and ordered Councilman Douglas Lawson to be ‘un-arrested’ following his arrest for domestic battery. Not only did Chief Osgood try to use his authority to do a political favor on behalf of a local official who was up for re-election the following year, but he also wrongfully terminated a police captain who refused to alter a probable cause affidavit in order to downgrade the incident. Accountability starts at the top. Had any of our law enforcement officers interfered with an arrest and manipulated a sworn affidavit, they would have been immediately terminated. There cannot be one standard for the Chief and another standard for the rank and file. Captain Commond should never have experienced the disruption caused by being placed on Administrative Leave. We hope that the resignation of Chief Osgood sends a powerful message that the injustice experienced by Captain Commond can never be allowed to happen again at the Riviera Beach Police Department or any other agency. We hope that the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) sufficiently probes the unlawful actions of former Chief Osgood.”