State Attorney drops a traffic violation against Indian River County Administrator Joe Baird

VERO BEACH — The State Attorney's Office Monday dropped a traffic violation against Indian River County Administrator Joe Baird for damaging a security gate last month, Assistant State Attorney Christopher Taylor said Monday.

"It's one of those times it was fortunate there was video," said Vero Beach attorney Bobby Guttridge, who represented Baird on the case. "I think the state reviewed the evidence and it showed he didn't commit a crime."

Taylor said a statement on the state's conclusion on the case would be available Tuesday.

Baird was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a March 10 violation for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. He was visiting Grand Harbor and drove into the 53rd Street entrance gate, according to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office. The padded arm of the gate dropped and struck the hood of Baird's Toyota Camry as he drove through, according to the traffic report.

The damaged gate arm rose up after Baird backed up his car, but fell apart shortly after Baird left the scene, the Sheriff's Office said. A security guard contacted the Sheriff's Office and notified it the driver of the Camry was at the Grand Harbor marina. Grand Harbor provided surveillance video of the incident to deputies.

Deputy Karrie Spooner charged Baird with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. If the State Attorney's Office chose to prosecute the charge, Guttridge said Baird would have entered a not-guilty plea Tuesday.

Grand Harbor staff said they fixed the gate arm on the day of the mishap. The Sheriff's Office said the damages were about $300. Baird said he contacted Grand Harbor to pay for the damages.

According to the deputies who went to the scene, Baird responded belligerently to the violations. He called Spooner "stupid" and said she "didn't have a real (expletive) job," according to emails the deputies sent to their supervisor. Baird apologized before the deputies left, they reported.

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