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Florida sheriff counterpunches after battery charge dropped

It's a relatively short drive from Fort Walton to Walton County. A recent incident there received little notice in Florida news media, but got some real attention in Oklahoma.

According to reports, the commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services was vacationing with family in Walton County when she was arrested for battery. The charge was dropped, however, but became much more interesting after both the commissioner and Walton County sheriff released statements on the matter.

The commissioner released a statement pointing out her family faces " behavioral health issues" like so many other families do. She said that the Walton County incident involved a heated disagreement with a family member.

She said she tried to cool him off "by throwing water onto him from a cup to get him to stop." Instead, things escalated further and he apparently shoved her into a wall. She called police "asking for help to deescalate the situation," but was instead arrested for battery.

She said once she explained the situation to county officials, the charge was dropped.

She added that the incident was unfortunate and that she believes "that law enforcement in Oklahoma would have responded differently."

That needling was apparently too much for the Walton County sheriff, who released a statement saying that the commissioner "is either unwilling or unable to accept the results of her actions." He wrote that she is the one responsible for the incident that resulted in her arrest and that the charge was only dropped because "all parties involved live in Oklahoma and were unwilling to cooperate."

For those who live in Fort Walton Beach, it's usually not quite so simple or easy. If you have been arrested, speak with a criminal defense attorney before talking to prosecutors.

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