POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A second firefighter resigned after an internal investigation about an employee posting video to social media that was taken during a fatal fire.
- Michael Ruby resigned is the 2nd firefighter to resign
- James Williams allegedly took video of fatal fire
- Woman died inside home while firefighters were on scene
- PREVIOUS STORY: Polk Fire Capt. Resigns Amid Fatal Fire Investigation
Polk County firefighter Michael Ruby resigned, in lieu of termination for posting unauthorized images of fire/paramedic scenes while on duty. His investigation stemmed from someone in the community seeing it on SnapChat, screenshotting it and complaining to the department.
Polk County Fire Rescue Captain James Williams was the first to resign on March 12.
Williams had been under investigation for his SnapChat video taken the night of the fire, which killed Loretta Pickard.
While county officials agreed to have an outside peer review of that fire, a second video surfaced of another fire attached to Williams’ phone number. An internal investigation was launched and Assistant Fire Chief Rick Parnell concluded Williams broke three county policies related to the creation and sharing of unauthorized videos of fires scenes.
According to the investigative documents, Williams’ admitted to filming the second video for training purposes and said he couldn’t recall how many other videos he’d shot. He said he deleted all of the videos and refused to allow the county to review his phone.
In Williams resignation letter, he blamed the media for his downfall, stating the media twist the truth for ratings. He also said, “he made a few mistakes along the way but none that has ever put a patient's life or well being in jeopardy."
Loretta Pickard’s niece, Amber Addison, who urged the county to conduct an outside review of the fire that killed her aunt, was furious after she read the letter.
"It shows no remorse about snap chatting when a woman was alive in a burning building. There's no I’m so sorry for the family, I made a big mistake this will never happen again. Nothing like that. I [was] just in complete disbelief when I read it, I couldn't believe his callousness toward the family," said Amber Addison.
She also was in disbelief about his comments toward the media, who pushed the county to look deeper into Williams’s actions.
“Oh yea he’s blaming it on the media. Because you know, you guys were the ones SnapChatting him at the fire. No that was all him. What are you doing? Take responsibility. Apologize to us. Say that it was an immature act, one that you wouldn’t do again. He showed no remorse. He’s blaming others like a 10-year-old boy,” Addison said.
Spectrum Bay News 9 asked Williams to do an interview, to share his side of the story. He declined and texted, “The media has done enough damage to me and my family by spreading false information.”