News Cast for February 14th:

Today is Valentine’s Day, the feast day of St. Valentine, a time to celebrate love and affection, and it falls on a Thursday this year. That also means the Okeechobee County Commissioners will be meeting today as well. Commissioners will consider a proclamation for this week to be Foster Family Appreciation Week and they will also consider Sheriff Noel Stephen’s comments in regards to a proposed sound ordinance in the county. The meeting will begin at nine o’clock in the Historic County Courthouse and it will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

The Okeechobee County Grand Jury convened on Tuesday to hear testimony and review evidence regarding the use of deadly force by local law officers to stop a local man during a home invasion in connection with a domestic incident last summer and eventually decided that no charges will be filed. 35 year old Daniel Edward Willis broke into a home of someone he knew in Oak Lake Villas then fled the scene after arming himself with a pistol and attempted to break into someone else’s home on the night of August 6th. Deputies and SWAT team members of the Okeechobee Police Department pursued Willis and attempted to get him to surrender while he was holding a gun to his head and threatening others. Willis charged at law enforcement officers leaving them with no choice but to use deadly force to stop him and Willis was pronounced dead.  Prosecutor Ashley Albright says the Grand Jury made a finding yesterday and through the presenting of “No True Bill”, law enforcement’s actions were legally justified. Law officers involved in this incident were put on administrative leave with pay for a while. No law officers were hurt in this incident.

The Okeechobee City Police Department swore in two new police officers during the city council meeting earlier last week. Officer Savannah Smith was one of the new officers in Okeechobee and she says she “feels wonderful” and is excited to be a part of the Okeechobee Police Department. Smith previously worked as a dispatcher with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department for six years and in that time, she got her certification as an auxiliary officer. Smith says she got interested in joining the police department during a situation that was literally crippling to her. Smith, a native of Jupiter, will be working with the department on a part-time basis while she continues her academy training which she says will be completed next summer. The other new Okeechobee Police Officer sworn in is Todd Burk, a lifelong Okeechobee resident and US Marine and former Florida state trooper. Officer Burk was unavailable for comment.

An Okeechobee man is facing a host of charges, including drug possession, after an incident in Jaycee Park Saturday night. Sheriff’s deputies were patrolling the park at Lock 7 a little before midnight when an oncoming vehicle, driven by 18 year old Johnny Luis Rodriguez, came across the boat ramp access road, hit the brakes, and turned into the picnic area where people were sitting before Rodriguez finally stopped and was ordered out of the vehicle. Deputies say Rodriguez reached for his wristband, attempting to throw something away before deputies grabbed him and, after a brief struggle, got him handcuffed. A search of the vehicle revealed a digital scale with white flakes on it and a white powder on the seat and center console, both were cocaine. Some marijuana was found as well. Rodriguez was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest and reckless driving. He was released from county jail after posting a three thousand dollar bond.

That was not the only one; Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two local women Monday night on drug possession after a traffic stop. Deputies stopped a Chrysler van, driven by 48 year old Lisa Janeen Sills, on the 38 hundred block of SE Highway 441 a little after 9:30 for not stopping at a stop sign. Deputies say Sills was very nervous when she was asked to present her driver’s license, prompting deputies to call in a K-9 unit to search the van and found nothing. Deputies then searched Sills and her passenger, 44 year old Mildred Inez Hardison and found a hydromorphone pill in Sills’ bra and Hardison had a black pouch in her bra that had methamphetamine on it. Sills was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and Hardison was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine. Both are being held in county jail on bonds of five thousand dollars’ apiece.

A Port St. Lucie man is dead following injuries he received in a vehicle accident Sunday morning. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 31 year old Brandon Wilson was driving a Suzuki motorcycle south on Pratt Whitney Road in Martin County a little after eleven o’clock when he attempted to pass a Ford F-150 pickup truck in front of him. The left side of Wilson’s motorcycle collided with the right rear of the truck, causing him to go off the road and into a guardrail. The impact caused Wilson to be ejected from the bike. He was taken to Martin South Memorial Hospital in Stuart for treatment of his injuries but medics pronounced him dead on Monday. The pickup truck driver was not injured. FHP is investigating the accident.

On the arrest report:

25 year old Nathaniel Lee Steen of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of oxycodone and marijuana after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $55 hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Ethyn Wyatt Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and criminal mischief during a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. He was released after posting a $31 thousand dollar bond.

57 year old Randy Devon Burney of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of oxycodone after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.