James E. "Sully" Sullivan is a former deputy with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office who was involved in a number of alleged abuses of power before he resigned in March 2005 amid an Internal Affairs investigation which eventually found he had committed "criminal violations including three counts of aggravated battery and tampering with evidence." This conclusion was not turned over to the State Attorney's Office. After his resignation, Sullivan moved to Pennsylvania with his wife and daughter.
On August 5, 2003, Sullivan was among several deputies pursuing a suspect at the Oakwood Terrace apartments. When Michael J. Montgomery, an observer who was visiting a friend at the apartment complex, criticized the officers for using excessive force in the arrest, he was shot twice with a Taser by Sullivan.
The deputies' report of the incident claims that Montgomery had been shouting obscenities at the officers, and that the Taser was only deployed after several warnings "to defuse the situation." A lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office claimed Sullivan "had a smile on his face" when he used the Taser, and after shooting Montgomery twice asked him "if he wanted some more."
Sullivan was present at the December 29, 2004 arrest of Jeremy Mann following a hit-and-run incident on Gulf Beach Highway involving Mann's vehicle and another deputy's squad car. After Mann had already been subdued and was restrained on the ground, Sullivan allegedly struck him in the head with a flashlight. Then, as other deputies pulled Mann to his feet, Sullivan allegedly delivered several knee-strikes to the handcuffed subject, telling Mann "he ought to kill him."
Deputy Scott Dixon gave Sullivan a videotape from his patrol car which might have confirmed the allegations. Sullivan later bragged to deputies, "I charbroiled the tape on my [barbecue] grill." Without the videotape evidence, prosecutors were forced to drop two charges of battery and aggravated assault against him.
Sullivan pleaded no contest on June 13, 2007 to the charge of tampering with evidence, a felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison. However, he claimed he "did not even think about" what might have been on the tape or how it might have bearing on his filing of a requisite use-of-force report. On October 16, 2007, Sullivan was sentenced by Judge Linda Nobles to 24 months' probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
On February 5, 2005, Sullivan allegedly stomped on the head of subdued ex-convict Timothy T. Tabor, who had been handcuffed by deputies and was lying face down at the time on a concrete floor. The injury left him with 12 staples in his head and a fractured sinus cavity. The other two arresting deputies, Nicole Mrusek and Josh Hendershott, told investigators they witnessed Sullivan attacking Tabor "not in a kicking manner, but in a stomping manner."
On April 25, 2007, a jury acquitted Sullivan of the battery charges after deliberating for only 15 minutes. According to Sullivan's attorney, Jim Jenkins, "Deputy Mrusek may believe what she thinks she saw, but there's no consistency to the evidence to show that Sullivan stomped on Timothy Tabor's head."
- "Former deputy faces felonies." Pensacola News Journal, April 5, 2006.
- "Settlement reached in Taser case." Pensacola News Journal, July 6, 2006.
- "Former deputy facing inquiry." Pensacola News Journal, March 22, 2006.
- "Former deputy facing 5 years." Pensacola News Journal, June 14, 2007.
- "Ex-deputy gets no jail time." Pensacola News Journal, October 16, 2007.
- "Ex-deputy acquitted of batter on suspect." Pensacola News Journal, April 26, 2007.