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Palm Coast Saturday, Jun. 30, 2018 4 months ago

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Eric Cooley arrested on domestic battery charge

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Cooley was booked at the county jail the night of June 29.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Eric Cooley was arrested the evening of June 29 after a witness reported seeing Cooley kick his girlfriend and grab her by the throat at the 7-Eleven store Cooley owns at 408 S. Oceanshore Blvd., according to an arrest affidavit.

Eric Cooley (Photo courtesy of the FCSO)

The witness told law enforcement officers that he'd seen the abuse on two separate occasions, the latest being the weekend of June 22-24. The victim also worked at the store.

Cooley, speaking with law enforcement, denied the charges.

Flagler Beach Police Department officers and Flagler County Sheriff's Office deputies — who took over the case at FBPD's request after officers realized their suspect was a city commissioner — spoke with the victim outside the 7-Eleven store June 29 after being contacted by the witness.

The victim spoke with law enforcement in the parking lot "due to concerns of Eric observing the conversation on security cameras," according to the arrest affidavit. 

She said that at about 6 a.m. the morning of June 22, she and Cooley were doing inventory at the store when they began to argue. 

She "stated anything that goes wrong with the store is blamed on her, causing Eric to become upset," according to a the arrest affidavit. "(She) stated that Eric kicked her in both shins with her steel toed shoes, grabbed her around the chin with his right hand inside the store cooler and punched her in the back of her right shoulder on Friday June 22 while she was at work at 7-Eleven within a 15-minute period." 

She said he'd also punched her in the shoulder without stating a reason June 28 after arriving home from work and that he smacked her across the face the morning of June 29 after she got out of the shower to get soap, because "he became upset (she) let cold air in," according to the affidavit.

She hit her forehead against the wall when he smacked her, she said. A deputy noted "minor discoloration and swelling" on her forehead, according to the affidavit, and photographed her injuries for evidence.

She told the deputy that the instances of abuse would be captured on the store's security cameras. Cooley was the only one with access to the local footage and could delete it, she said, but 7-Eleven's corporate security contractor maintains original copies.

She said she and Cooley had been dating for about 20 years and that "approximately the last 10 has had instances of domestic violence that have not been reported," according to the arrest affidavit.

Deputies spoke with Cooley at his home on North Central Avenue, and he said he'd been arguing with his girlfriend but hadn't hit her.

When a deputy told him of her bruising, Cooley replied, "That's interesting," according to the arrest affidavit. Then he said that "absolutely nothing" happened that morning, that he did not punch her in the shoulder and that she "would not be bruised."

"She is entitled to say that," Cooley told a deputy, according to the affidavit. "We have been arguing a lot and we have been getting in each others' faces; we don't cross lines."

Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Cooley and booked him at the county jail at 11 p.m. He was held overnight on no bond. The domestic battery charge is a misdemeanor.

“This is an unfortunate situation, but it goes to show you that domestic violence has no boundaries,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a news release.

Cooley was elected without opposition in January 2018 to the City Commission seat previously held by Joy McGrew, who did not run for re-election.

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