ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sheriff's deputy being investigated on a domestic battery charge had previously threatened to kill his girlfriend if he lost his job because she called police after a similar incident in 2016, records show.
Osceola County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Keating was arrested Saturday after the couple argued following a night out at two bars. The woman told investigators Keating punched her in the face and threw her against a wall. Her injuries included a swollen nose, a black eye and a split lip. Deputies observed no injuries on Keating.
Keating, 45 and a 14-year veteran of the department, told deputies the woman "flew into a drunken rage" and started hitting him because he won't divorce his wife.
He also told deputies the woman "has a history of making false reports against him," and injured herself in the past to support those claims.
The Orlando Sentinel cites a 2016 internal investigation following a beating that sent the woman to a hospital in Brevard County with cuts to her face, arms and hands.
The report said the woman didn't want to give deputies her boyfriend's name at first, saying she's "terrified he would kill her."
In the July 2016 case, the woman said she'd gone to dinner with Keating and when they returned to her apartment, he started screaming at her for no reason and punched her. She told detectives she couldn't breathe and tried to fight him off, but he twisted her arm and punched her again. She told deputies she was "scared of him and scared for her life."
However, she changed her story later, telling detectives she was to blame and "had been a handful that night." She said she didn't want them to investigate. But they continued and forwarded their findings to the Seminole-Brevard State Attorney's Office, which filed charges against Keating. However, Osceola County sheriff Russ Gibson said the woman wouldn't cooperate, so the case wasn't prosecuted and Keating was never arrested.
During an internal investigation, the sheriff's office found the couple has a "volatile" relationship. Deputies were called numerous times including in December when she was accused of taking a golf club to his motorcycle. Investigators noted the conduct reflected poorly on Keating and the sheriff's office.
Keating was suspended for 24 hours then, but he kept his job. After Saturday's arrest, he's on unpaid administrative leave pending the investigation.