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Polk County Sheriff

OAN’s Taylor Tinsley
12:50 PM – Thursday, May 30, 2024

A police officer in Florida is facing charges for engaging in lewd acts with teenage girls.

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Bartow officer Markanthony Fernandez is accused of having sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl, 17-year-old girl and two 18-year-olds.

“It makes me elated to arrest him and put him in jail. This guy is a bad guy,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Fernandez, 24, was charged with four felonies and six misdemeanors on Tuesday. 

Investigators said he is accused of creating a relationship with the four teens, which he met through social media, and bringing them to a party at his house.

He gave the victims THC gummies and alcohol and recorded several videos of them. One of the girls was even wearing his Bartow PD jacket.

“He told one of the 18-year-old’s and the 17-year-old that he gets sexually excited from choking people. So he choked the 18-year-old unconscious. Did you hear what I said?” Sheriff Judd continued.

The sheriff said the 18-year-old allowed Fernandez to choke her, but he also choked the 17-year-old without her permission, to the point where it scared her.

After the incident, Fernandez sent the videos to fellow officers, who quickly reported him to supervisors. 

“He was stupid enough to do it. Then he was really stupid to video it, then he was really stupid to show it to his colleagues at work… You play stupid stupid stupid games, you win stupid stupid stupid prizes,” Judd said.

The department hired Fernandez in 2022 and he has refused to resign. 

He’s been on paid administrative leave since February and his termination is pending. 

“It’s very disappointing to see this happen,” said BPD Deputy Chief Stephen Walker. “We all wear this patch and this badge as a sign of public trust and it’s unfortunate when somebody violates that and puts it into question for the community.”

Fernandez is set to appear for an administrative hearing on Monday.

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