It was bad enough when Gail Buckner took her husband's marked Polk County Sheriff's Office patrol car without permission and went on a Sunday morning joyride through Lakeland, investigators say.
It got even worse when investigators discovered that Buckner was a convicted felon, and three different types of firearms were inside the patrol car during the joyride.
To top it all off, the teen riding in the backseat who "found it exciting" as the lights flashed and the siren wailed was out on bail on an armed robbery charge, according to arrest reports.
Buckner, 38 of Lakeland, and Alexander James Quintasket, 19, of 2410 County Road 540A, were arrested Sunday, along with the second passenger, Sharon Lynn Cooper, 54, also of 2410 County Road 540A.
Buckner's husband, Deputy Charles "Chip" Buckner III, resigned today, sheriff's office spokeswoman Carrie Eleazer said.
Investigators and arrest reports give this account of what happened at 11:30 a.m. Sunday near C.R. 540A:
A witness saw Charles Buckner's patrol car leaving a gas station and moving erratically down the road with the lights and siren on. As the patrol car drove toward Crews Lake Road, it ran a red light and other vehicles yielded to its flashing lights and wailing siren.
The patrol car was going over 80 mph.
The witness followed the car into a subdivision and to the Buckners' house. A sheriff's sergeant called Charles Buckner, who told the sergeant his wife had taken his sheriff's office-issued car without his permission while he was sleeping.
During the joyride, Gail Buckner, Cooper and Quintasket had access to three weapons: a sheriff's office Glock pistol, a 12 gauge shotgun and Charles Buckner's personal .380 Walther PPK pistol.
Gail Buckner told investigators she made a bad judgment call and meant no harm. Cooper said she is suffering from a terminal illness and that's why Buckner took her for a spin in the deputy's cruiser.
Quintasket told investigators he knew he shouldn't have been riding in the car but assumed Buckner had permission to drive it because she had the keys.
Quintasket, out on bail on an armed robbery charge, initially gave deputies a false name. He told deputies that if he went back to jail his bond would be revoked. The teen also told deputies that he "enjoyed riding in the patrol car and found it to be exciting."
He was charged with grand theft, impersonating a law enforcement officer, grand theft of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and resisting arrest without violence. He is being held tonight without bail at Polk County Jail.
Cooper was charged with grand theft, grand theft of a firearm and impersonating a law enforcement officer. She is being held on $3,000 bail at Polk County Jail.
Gail Buckner was charged with grand theft, impersonating a law enforcement officer, grand theft of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. She is being held on $8,000 bail at Polk County Jail.
Before his resignation today, Charles Buckner, 44, was most recently assigned to the southwest district patrol, spokeswoman Eleazer said. He was hired in February 1988.
Deputies are continuing the investigation and the sheriff's office has begun an internal review of the incident.