Sheriff’s Substation Leader Talks Crashes and Crime

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By Rachel Brown Hackney

Sgt. Arik Smith

During his monthly presentation to the Siesta Key Association (SKA) members, on Feb. 6, Sgt. Arik Smith, leader of the Sheriff’s Office substation on the island, first offered a report that he had promised a person in January.

Smith apologized for not recalling the man’s name, but Smith reminded attendees that the man had asked about the number of crashes at the intersection of Stickney Point Road and Midnight Pass Road.

The Sheriff’s Office’s Traffic Division pulled that data for him, Smith continued. From Jan. 1, 2018 to Jan. 10 of this year, a total of 16 crashes were recorded at that intersection. The Sheriff’s Office handled the majority of the responses, Smith noted.

(During the past two annual budget presentations Sheriff Tom Knight and his senior staff have made to the County Commission, they have reported that the Sheriff’s Office has been handling more and more accidents, with the Florida Highway Patrol’s manpower continuing to shrink.)

On Feb. 6, Smith told the SKA members he thought that 16 [crashes] “was actually pretty good … for as busy as that intersection is.”

As for crime on the Key in January: Smith reported that the Sheriff’s Office received 308 calls for service, and only 18 — or 6% — of those involved what the FBI classifies as Part I crimes — those of the most serious nature.

The Part I offenses included three vehicle burglaries that occurred on the same day, Smith noted. Those were what officers call “smash-and-grab” cases, he added. The perpetrators saw valuables in the vehicles and broke windows to remove the items, Smith said.

Once again, he urged the SKA members, “Hide your valuables.” Put them in the trunk, the center console or the glove box, he said, so they do not tempt someone.

Among the other Part I crimes were an auto theft, a robbery and a non-residential burglary, Smith noted.

The robbery case, he explained, “didn’t start out here.” As he understood the details, Smith said, that began with a road rage incident near Sarasota Memorial Hospital. “They ended up on the Key.”

A physical fight broke out, Smith continued. Then “one guy reaches in and grabs [the other guy’s] car keys … and throws them out of the car.” That constituted the robbery portion of the incident, he said.

The Sheriff’s Office personnel were “pretty busy out here” in January, he added. Business owners have continued to tell him, Smith said, that crowds are indeed large this season.

Finally, Smith talked about the Sheriff’s Office’s annual preparations for spring break, which usually launches on March 1. “We urge that everybody just calm down and pay attention to what’s going on,” Smith advised the audience members. For example, drivers especially need to watch out for people in crosswalks, he said.

From six to eight extra officers will be assigned to the island, Smith continued. “The horses will be out here as well,” he added, referring to the Mounted Patrol Unit.

Spring break “brings that extra traffic, just that kind of extra nervousness out here,” he pointed out. “Calm down and let’s get through this thing smoothly.”

Details about the aggravated assault

During Sgt. Arik Smith’s Feb. 6 report to Siesta Key Association (SKA) members, he pointed out that an aggravated assault recorded among the more serious crimes on the Key in January involved “a couple of juveniles [who] argued over shoes in the Village. … They got into a fight, and one of them produced a knife and, kind of in self-defense, stabbed the other one.”

The Sheriff’s Office’s Communications staff kindly provided the SNL copies of the reports related to the aggravated assault case.

About 6 p.m. on Jan. 1, in the parking lot of Hanna Plaza, located at 5221 Ocean Blvd., the report says, the victim “was involved in a physical altercation with Jaden M. Tassotti-Edbrooke,” whom the report identified as 16 and a resident of Sarasota.

“The argument was about a pair of expensive sneakers which were stolen earlier in the day from the victim,” the report continued. (The victim asked not to be identified in the report, as allowed by state law.)

“The victim contacted [Tassotti-Edbrooke] and confronted him about the stolen sneakers,” the report continued. “The defendant denied stealing the sneakers but agreed to return them to the victim,” the report added. The two agreed to meet in Siesta Village, and they ended up in the parking lot located at 5221 Ocean Blvd., the report noted.

Tassotti-Edbrooke “returned the stolen sneakers to the victim,” the report said. “A verbal altercation ensued between the two which turned physical. A couple punches were exchanged between the victim and the defendant. The defendant then stabbed the victim in the lower right abdomen,” resulting in a wound that was 10 cm deep and 5 cm wide, the report added. A trauma unit transported the victim to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, “where he underwent emergency surgery for his injury. The victim is expected to survive his injury,” the report said.

Sheriff’s Officer personnel located and interviewed two witnesses, the report continued. They stated that they had observed the fight and the stabbing, the report added.

“The knife was located and taken into custody as evidence,” the report noted.

As for the alleged theft of the sneakers, which led to that incident: A second Sheriff’s Office report explained that the victim of the stabbing attended a party on Siesta Cove Drive on Jan. 1. “The victim left his black and white Balenciaga shoes in one of the rooms in the residence,” that report said. “At some point during the party,” Tassotti-Edbrooke allegedly entered the room where the shoes had been left. After Tassotti-Edbrooke departed the home, the report continued, “the victim discovered the shoes were gone. The shoes were purchased on [Nov. 27, 2019 at Neiman-Marcus] for $846.30,” the report noted.

Surveillance video inside the residence “showed [Tassotti-Edbrooke] leaving with a red jacket which had something wrapped in it,” the report continued. “The victim called the defendant and confronted him about the theft. [Tassotti-Edbrooke] admitted to stealing the shoes and offered to return the stolen shoes,” the report said. And that led to the incident in the Village, the report added.

Tassotti-Edbrooke was charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Grand Theft, both of which are felony counts, the reports noted.

An accompanying document said Tassotti-Edbrooke was released into the custody of his parents, Courtney Lyn Edbrooke, 35, and Silvio C. Tassotti, 44, “pending the disposition of this case.”

The parents have separate addresses in Sarasota, that document showed.

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