Ocala police officer arrested, suspended after lying about crash following a night of drinking

OCALA, Fla. — An Ocala Police officer was arrested following a crash after he admitted to fellow officers that he’d just left a bar, but lied about another key detail.

Officer Joseph Kelly has been with the department since 2007.

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Police say he was behind the wheel last Wednesday when his SUV crashed on SE 31st Street, but told investigators someone else was driving.

Kelly admitted he’d been downtown and later at a bar called “First and Last Tab.”

Records show Kelly could only identify the supposed driver as a man named “Steve” who offered him a ride home but ran from the scene after the crash.

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However, investigators say surveillance video from the bar shows Officer Kelly getting into the driver’s seat five minutes before the crash.

Additional surveillance video from a fire station close to the crash site shows only one person getting out of Kelly’s wrecked SUV.

Kelly was charged with making a false report.

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In a statement, Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken said the department is “extremely disappointed” by the officer’s actions.

Kelly is on unpaid suspension while the department conducts an internal investigation into the incident alongside the criminal case.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.