An internal affairs (IA) report released on Friday indicated that Fort Pierce Officer Doug McNeal wound up suspended for 20 days without pay after investigators found that he failed to adhere to police protocol from the start of his 2018 arrest of Zachary Moellendick and Krista Leigh.
In reviewing body camera footage, officials found that McNeal allowed the pair to smoke a cigarette prior to getting into the patrol car and let them smoke another inside the vehicle before transporting them to the county jail.
The IA report indicates that when McNeal was asked by Leigh if they could smoke for a second time, the officer replied, "No, just smoke in the car. They won't let you smoke in the sally port." A sally port is a secured entryway where police unload inmates.
Additionally, McNeal failed to place both Moellendick and Leigh in seat belts and ignored proper handcuff protocol, leaving Moellendick unhandcuffed and Leigh with her hands cuffed in front of her while sitting in the patrol car.
With neither individual properly restrained, things quickly heated up for the couple, as video footage shows them cuddling and kissing for the majority of the time that they're in the patrol car. At one point in the recording, the pair are seen performing sex acts on one another for roughly six minutes.
Later, during interviews with detectives, Leigh told officials that Moellendick had "fingered" her while she gave him a "hand job." Moellendick told the same investigators that he "got [Leigh] off and she got him off," the IA report reads.
Video of the series of events captures the moment in which a passing officer tells McNeal, "I think they're making babies back there."
However, when it came time for IA officials to question McNeal about the events, he denied that any sexual acts were performed, adding that he was "fine" with the pair cuddling and kissing.
In the end, the IA report notes that McNeal violated policies related to body worn cameras, unauthorized restraint, detainee transport operations, special transport situations and use of tobacco products within patrol vehicles.
It concluded by stating that McNeal's conduct during the July 2018 arrest was "inconsistent with the standards expected" of an officer, and that a repeat offense of the violations may leave him without a job.
Fort Pierce Chief Diane Hobley-Burney told local news station WPTV that McNeal has "accepted full responsibility for his actions and understands the seriousness of the policy violations."
"The conduct of this officer does not represent the values of this department or the dedicated men and women who serve our community with honor every day," she added. McNeal's suspension from the department began on February 14.
Moellendick pleaded guilty to petty theft and trespassing and was released from the St. Lucie County Jail on Thursday, the Treasure Coast Palm reported. Leigh pleaded no contest to petty theft and was sentenced to time served and released from jail on February 14.