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Suspect in video with St. Lucie County Sheriff Keith Pearson wasn't arrested by agency's deputies

Sheriff continues to avoid questions about his boastful social media video
Posted at 7:46 PM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 19:46:54-05

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — In a Facebook video reel posted Wednesday by the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Keith Pearson looked into the camera and introduced himself.

"Franklin Sanders and his juvenile companion thought they were going to come through St. Lucie County with a stolen vehicle, with the Broward task force on their tail," the sheriff said with a man sitting slumped over on the ground propped on a white BMW behind the law enforcement official. "Ain't happenin'."

"Although this (car) is an M5 and it's super fast, we've got the scat pack out and hey, what'd you think? Good?" Pearson continues.

Pearson then turns and asks the man seated on the ground, who does not respond.

"Yeah, no comment," Pearson said in the video.

Since the video was uploaded Wednesday, it has drawn strong reactions and raised questions that Pearson so far has not answered, despite multiple interview requests from WPTV.

WPTV has since learned from other law enforcement agencies that the arrest was not made in St. Lucie County or by a St. Lucie County deputy.

Like many sheriff's offices in Florida, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office posts records of its arrests on its website. There were no arrest records for Franklin Sanders, the sitting suspect identified in the video by Pearson.

WPTV located arrest records for Sanders in Osceola and Broward counties. According to those records, Sanders was arrested Wednesday in Osceola County following a stolen vehicle pursuit, two days after posting bond in Broward County.

"Last Friday, detectives in our Lauderdale Lakes district received information regarding a possible stolen Mercedes Maybach," Carey Codd, a public information officer for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, said. "(Sanders) was arrested for a number of charges including grand theft auto. That was last Friday."

Carey Codd speaks with WPTV chief investigative reporter Jamie Ostroff about the case involving Franklin Sanders.
Carey Codd speaks with WPTV chief investigative reporter Jamie Ostroff about the case involving Franklin Sanders.

Court records show Sanders posted bond on Monday.

Codd said deputies on the agency's anti-burglary task force were contacted Wednesday by the Davie Police Department for assistance in tracking a white BMW that had been reported stolen in Winter Park.

Footage obtained from the Martin County Sheriff's Office from the agency's helicopter shows deputies from multiple agencies following the BMW northbound along the Florida Turnpike. Palm Beach deputies can be heard saying they’re "breaking off" the pursuit when the vehicle begins to speed up.

Around that time, the St. Lucie County "scat" vehicle referenced by Pearson in his video began pursuing the BMW. A voice can be heard tracking the BMW's speed up to 130 mph.

By the time the pursuit ended in Osceola County, the scat vehicle was no longer close behind. The Osceola County probable cause affidavit, which is mostly redacted, said Indian River and Osceola deputies deployed spike strips (the report does not indicate whether the spikes played a role in apprehending Sanders).

Sanders remains in the Osceola County jail.

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