Prior investigation involving officer ended in settlements
The city paid out $17,000 last year after a Cape Coral police officer was demoted and penalized following an investigation into a traffic stop that she ordered.
On June 18, Sgt. Georgeann Lytle ordered two fellow officers to conduct a traffic stop on Kayla Holder, Kristin Randazzo, Brian Wigenfeld and a fourth person as they left the parking lot of a downtown bar, where they worked.
The officers checked the licenses of the four individuals, and about 20-25 minutes later, the group was told that they could leave. Neither of the two vehicles involved were searched. No one was arrested, nor given a citation.
On Aug. 18, the city provided Holder with a $10,000 check to release Lytle, the other two officers and the city from any potential claims. Randazzo and Wigenfeld each received a check for $3,500.
“In this case, the city was well aware of the incident,” Connie Barron, the city’s spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail Thursday. “We conducted our own investigation and determined that it would be advisable to resolve any potential claim emanating from this incident.”
At the time, the three had not filed a notice of intent to file a lawsuit.
“We do investigate allegations or claims on our own without receiving any threat of legal action,” Barron continued. “In some cases, we may determine the city is negligent or liable, and in those cases, we will initiate the action to settle the claim.”
Barron did not know Thursday how the settlement amounts were determined.
“In the short run, it’s easier to offer these settlements than it is to continue down the road and face potential additional legal bills,” she said.
Randazzo declined comment Thursday on the settlement.
Holder and Wigenfeld could not be reached for comment.
The settlements were handed out one month after the CCPD wrapped up an internal affairs investigation of the incident. The investigation was initiated after Holder filed a complaint about the events that occurred.
During the investigation, Lytle admitted that she knew Holder was the girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend, and she thought that Holder was talking about her on an online blog. Lytle said she ordered the traffic stop because she thought that she wanted to say something to Holder.
Investigators found that Lytle ordered the stop without probable cause, using her position for private gain. She was demoted to patrol officer and suspended without pay. Her pay was cut from about $68,245 to $59,946.
Lytle, who has been with the police department since June 2001, has recently become the subject of another internal affairs investigation. The investigation, opened within the past week, stems from a complaint about Lytle’s actions during a 2008 incident.
Officials have reported that it has to do with improper use of force.
Lytle is reportedly accused of shoving Brittany Lynn Sposito, who was 18 years of age at the time, up against a wall while in custody following a DUI arrest. The result was reportedly a bruise on one side of Sposito’s face.
The complainant could be reached for comment Thursday.
Gene Gibbons, attorney for the Cape Coral Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 33, will represent Lytle in the case if she requires it. Gibbons has stated that Lytle’s use of force was reviewed following the incident and that her actions were found to be “lawful and appropriate given the circumstances.”
It was unknown Thursday whether Lytle has been involved in any additional internal affairs investigations. Her current annual salary is about $61,984.