City commissioner injured in fracas

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By Lou Elliott Jones

A sworn complaint for misdemeanor battery has been made against Cedar Key City Commissioner C. Dale Register after an altercation with another man on Thursday, Dec. 13, at about 9 p.m. by the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge.

Cedar Key Police Chief Virgil Sandlin, responding to a public records request by the Cedar Key Beacon, said, “He was charged with battery; papers were filed with the state attorney's office. We'll see where it goes.”

At Tuesday's City Commission meeting, Register read a statement: “As many have heard I was involved in an altercation last Thursday night. There are legal proceedings under way and I am not at liberty to discuss any details of the unfortunate event or the proceedings. I just want you to know that I am as commited as ever to doing the best job I can to serve the citizens of Cedar Key as one of your Commissioners. Thank you for understanding.”

Register's face was visibly bruised and he had a bandage over his left forehead. The injuries were the result of the fight in front of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Club on B Street.

The chief gave this account of the events that night:

“This gentleman was at the Island Hotel and I assume Dale was riding around and sees this man's truck parked by the Eagles Club and he drives past in the car, goes around the corner, parks the car in the road and goes over and the gentleman was in the truck said it looked like he (Register) was urinating on the truck, so he blew the horn and got out and a verbal altercation happened.

“Mr. Register struck (the man) and (the man) protected himself. He was defending himself. And at some point Mr. Register went down and (the man) stayed on top of him until law enforcement arrived.”

Officer Robbie Whitman, who responded to the call, notified Sandlin who came out to oversee the investigation into the altercation. “It was obvious Mr. Register had been drinking,” Sandlin said. Whitman's report refers to Register as being “impaired” and unable to stand, but he does not indicate whether it was the result of drinking or the injuries he received. There is no indication that a field sobriety test or DUI testing was done on Register or the other man.

Whitman's report also indicates that at one point Register said he was walking by the man's truck when he jumped out and struck Register in the face with his fist, “starting the fight after which they fell into the street.”

“The def. (Register) stated that he was angry with the vic. (victim) because he believed the vic. had an affair with his ex-wife.”

The chief said Register was transported to the hospital for treatment, but was not arrested at that time. Register suffered a cut to his head when he hit the ground and both eyes were bruised.

Because Register was not under arrest, the city is not be responsible for the hospital bill and the commissioner avoided being booked into the Levy County Jail as are most assault and battery suspects.

Sandlin said the victim in the fight did sign a sworn complaint as to the events that occurred. And the information was sent to the State Attorney's Office in Bronson.

Assistant State Attorney Glenn Bryan said in a phone interview on Tuesday that his office had just received the file and no decision had been made on whether to pursue criminal charges.  

Sandlin said this was not the first time that he had a complaint about Register's behavior.

Both men had filed for an injunction of protection against each other. It was discovered late Tuesday evening that both requests had been denied by Circuit Court Judge Yflepa McDonald.

Sandlin praised Whitman saying he “did a good job on the investigation.”