Tussle at St. Augustine polling location over sample ballot

A candidate for a seat on the Anastasia Mosquito Control District in St. Johns County got into an argument - and eventual physical altercation - with a high-ranking St. Johns County Republican Party official Thursday over a sample ballot, a police report shows.

The sample ballot endorses Merrill P. Roland's opponent in the race for Seat 1 on the control district - much to Roland's apparent dismay. 

The report from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office says the Republican party official was working with another man unloading boxes around 3:30 p.m. from a truck at the southeast branch of the St. Johns County Public Library when Roland approached them. He wanted to discuss the GOP's sample ballot for the county - specifically why it encouraged voters to pick Gina LeBlanc over him, the report shows.

After the confrontation where the party official says he was fine endorsing the other candidate, Roland allegedly pulled out his cellphone and said he recorded the entire conversation and was going to file a complaint against the party official.

Deputies were told by witnesses that Roland spit in the party official's face.

Both men began hurling insults at the other and eventually, the report says, the party official hit Roland in the face. As Roland was falling, he shot a stun gun at the party official, but it didn't connect.

The party official left at that point and Roland went to the hospital. When both men met up with deputies, they both said they wished to press charges against the other, the report says.

Roland told First Coast News by phone Thursday that the party official spit on him, kicked his cane and many other physical attacks, but the offense report doesn't mention any of those acts in Roland's sworn statement to deputies.

When deputies came to meet Roland at Flagler Hospital after the fight, the deputy reported he couldn't see any signs of injury to Roland.

Roland was described by a witness as 'volatile,' and he's been charged for years with different crimes but not convicted. He's currently being tried for petit theft from an incident back in March. He's also been accused of aggravated stalking and dealing in stolen property, but those charges were dropped.

No charges have been filed with the State Attorney's Office for either man at the time of this writing after this most recent incident.

(© 2016 WTLV)


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