It took just 75 minutes for a jury to deliberate and return a guilty verdict for Palm Beach County deputy Brandon Hegele on a reckless driving charge. The 104-mile-per-hour pursuit and serious crash on Southern Boulevard happened in May 2016.
Jurors heard testimony from Hegele’s commanders stating that they instructed him not to pursue a vehicle. But Hegele ignored the instructions and reached speeds more than twice the legal limit. When Harry Deshommes’ Smart car made a wide and slow u-turn, the deputy slammed into his vehicle at a rate of 84 mph.
The crash rendered the 62-year-old Deshommes permanently disabled and requiring constant care.
Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer ordered Hegele, 35, be taken to Palm Beach County Jail immediately. There he will remain until his March 15 sentencing. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Hegele, who has a wife and two young children, asked the judge to allow him to stay free on bond, which would enable him to continue to work a part-time job and help support his family.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office will now conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding the 13-year veteran officer.
Below is a previous article pertaining to this case.
A Palm Beach jury is hearing testimony in a reckless driving case against a sheriff’s deputy who was instructed not to pursue a suspect car when his county vehicle crashed into a smart car at 83 miles per hour.
Hegele, 35, a 13-year veteran of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, has been on unpaid administrative leave since shortly after the May 27, 2016 crash. He reportedly reached speeds of 104 mph while weaving through traffic on Southern Boulevard.
Harry Deshommes was driving the smart car that was rear-ended by the sheriff’s vehicle. Witnesses say they observed the 62-year-old make a wide, slow u-turn and effectively cut off Hegele’s vehicle which was traveling at more than twice the posted speed limit. Black box data revealed that the deputy slammed the breaks just one second before hitting Deshommes’ car at 83 mph.
The deputy’s air bags deployed and he received minor injuries. But Deshommes required months of hospitalization and still requires round-the-clock medical care, according to his family.
Prosecutors are aiming to prove Hegele guilty of a third-degree felony of reckless driving because he disregard the safety of other motorists and chose to ignore commands. The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The trial is a result of Hegele’s third on-duty crash.
Below is an earlier article we brought to you regarding this case:
Brandon Hegele, a 13-year veteran of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, is on trial for reckless driving regarding an on-duty incident where he was speeding at 104 mph and crashed leaving a victim seriously injured.
This is not the first time Hegele has been in trouble over vehicle crashes. It is not the second time either. The longtime Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy is facing charges on his third documented crash. But the jury will not be given that information.
Jurors will not know that the Sheriff’s Internal Affairs records show that prior to this latest high-speed, on-duty collision, Hegele received disciplinary actions including a suspension and a reprimand for two other rear-end crashes. One impact resulted in the injury of a civilian.
Why will jurors not have this history? Because Florida law prevents the use of policy violations in order to aid in proving a crime was commited.
In the current case against Hegele, the driver of the rear-ended vehicle is not able to come to court and testify, according to statments given by his sister, Gina Desrouleaux. As a result of his injuries, Harry Deshommes, 61, is now in an assisted living facility.
Desrouleaux says her brother, who was driving a Smart car, is relearning how to walk with assistance and talk and care for himself after spending months in a hospital, then a rehabilitation facility until April.
Deshommes’ car flipped and landed upright after being struck from behind by the marked Sheriff’s Department vehicle. There were no lights or sirens in use.
That’s when, Desrouleux says, her brother sustained a traumatic brain injury. His other injuries included: broken left arm, fractured skull, broken ribs, broken pelvis, broken back, and irreparable damage to his spleen.
Deputy Hegele was placed on unpaid leave four months after the accident which occurred in the afternoon of May 27, 2016 traffic on Southern Boulevard. He was recorded travelling at rates of speed more than twice the legal limit (50 mph). His county vehicle changed lanes at least nine times throughout the incident. Two supervisors commanded the deputy to “hang back” and not pursue the vehicle Hegele was searching for prior to the tragic crash.
Hegele, 34, is charged with reckless driving causing serious bodily injury. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.