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State attorney says domestic battery arrest of Riviera Beach councilman valid, but no charges will be filed

Police chief ordered Councilman Douglas Lawson 'unarrested' last month
Posted at 5:24 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 17:52:13-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — State Attorney Dave Aronberg's office found probable cause existed for Riviera Beach Councilman Douglas Lawson to be arrested after a domestic battery incident, but no charges will be filed because his fiancé refused to cooperate with investigators.

Contact 5 obtained documents on Thursday with the city's record department's intake stamp showing the determination by prosecutors.

The finding is significant since Police Chief Nathan Osgood ordered Lawson "unarrested" on Aug. 29 and ordered the captain who wrote the arrest report fired.

Riviera Beach Councilman Douglas Lawson
Councilman Douglas Lawson was elected to the District 5 seat of the Riviera Beach City Council in April 2019.

Since then the captain has been reinstated and the city has hired a Miami-based company, Blueprint 4 Safety, to conduct an investigation of the "unarrest" incident.

The city also moved the police department's internal affairs department to an off-site location to ensure its independence from Osgood.

The investigation may cost up to $25,000, according to a city spokesperson.

Lawson was taken into custody after Police Captain Rochelet Commond reviewed surveillance video from the Marina Grande condominium complex.

The councilman, who is running for re-election, was taken to police headquarters but ordered released by Osgood.

Contact 5 first obtained surveillance video that showed Lawson apparently dragging his fiancé Jade Calloway from the driver's seat of an SUV in the garage of Marina Grande.

Another video broadcast showed the two scuffling in an elevator of the complex on the same early morning of Aug. 29.

Riviera Beach's top cop Nathan Osgood.JPG

In not charging Lawson, prosecutors cited a subsequent news conference held by Lawson and his fiancé Jade Calloway where Calloway said that she had been drinking and "what the video shows is him trying to stop me from trying to drive after we had already got home."

Calloway also refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

"The state would be unable to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt," the "no-file" document reads.

However, prosecutors stated that based "on the evidence available, the initial investigation, including surveillance video provided there was sufficient probable cause to effectuate an arrest for the crime of domestic battery," Assistant State Attorney Bethany Johnson wrote.

Osgood has declined previous requests by WPTV to talk about why he ordered Lawson "unarrested." He has told The Palm Beach Post that, after seeing the footage, he told Commond that there was not enough probable cause to arrest Lawson.

The state attorney has now determined otherwise.

The Police Benevolent Association said Commond was really fired by Osgood because he didn't tailor the police report to the chief's demands.

In another document obtained by Contact 5, Aronberg's office thanks Commond, saying "We appreciate your efforts in this matter."

City spokeswoman Nicole Rodriguez said there would be no comment on the Lawson matter as the investigation by Blueprints 4 Safety is ongoing.