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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Mar 22, 2018

Lakeland man arrested for DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in January death of pedestrian

Media Contact: Michele Cash, PIO

On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, PCSO Traffic deputies obtained an arrest warrant for 36-year-old Rodney Schmitz of Rushing Road, Lakeland, for one count DUI Manslaughter (F-2) and one count Vehicular Homicide (F-2), after PCSO received toxicology reports from a January crash, during which Schmitz hit and killed 18-year-old Charles Goode on Knight Station Road in Lakeland. Schmitz was arrested on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

According to the affidavit, at 10:22 p.m. on January 5, 2018, Schmitz was driving his 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV westbound on Knight Station Road when he struck Goode, who was walking west along the roadway with his back to traffic. The crash was witnessed by an off-duty PCSO detective who was driving eastbound. The detective immediately stopped to render aid and summon first responders. Goode was declared deceased on-scene. Schmitz was uninjured. 

Polk County Fire Rescue personnel took a blood sample blood from Schmitz at the scene, which was submitted to the FDLE lab. The toxicology results were returned to PCSO, which showed Schmitz's blood alcohol level (BAC) was 0.181 at the time of the crash, which is over twice the legal limit for impairment. Additionally, investigation revealed that Schmitz was driving between 58 - 69 MPH in a 40 MPH zone when he struck Goode. 

"This suspect made the very poor choice to drink and drive, which led to the untimely death of a young man, and will likely lead to a prison sentence for the driver. There is never, ever a justification for drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car. The consequences are almost always tragic." - Grady Judd, Sheriff

Schmitz has been booked into the Polk County Jail, and is being held on no bond for the DUI Manslaughter charge, and $10,000 bond for the Vehicular Homicide charge. He will have a first appearance hearing today.