Former Port Orange Police Officer Darnell Gatling was fired in May for refusing to be interviewed for an internal affairs investigation into whether he accepted a cash gift.

A recently fired Port Orange police officer faces jail time due to allegations he refused to be interviewed during an internal affairs investigation into whether he accepted a cash gift and later denied it to his superiors.

Court records show a felony charge of perjury was filed Aug. 7 against Darnell Gatling, 34, but it was reduced that same day to a misdemeanor charge of failing to perform a required duty. Gatling was not arrested and his arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 5.

On March 13, while on patrol, Gatling was approached by a woman outside the Burger King, 3811 Nova Road, who gave him a wallet she she said had been lying on the ground, according to a police report.

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Moments later, Gatling saw a man on a trike motorcycle searching for something in the vicinity, the report stated. The man was looking for his wallet and Gatling handed it back to him.

Gatling turned off his body-worn camera, a policy violation, during his interaction with the man, who was last seen pulling some money out of his wallet, police said.

An internal affairs investigator opened an investigation after the police department learned that the man had given Gatling a $100 bill, according to a report summary.

Gatling denied receiving any money from the man, but video evidence captured from a local fast food restaurant contradicted Gatling's story, police said.

A charging affidavit stated, "(Gatling's) statements were, 'At no point in time did we exchange money.' And 'I never received money from him, at all, in no way, shape, form or fashion.'"

Gatling was called in for a second interview, but his attorney told internal affairs he would not make any statement, which led to his firing and to his subsequent criminal charge, authorities said.

The investigation never disclosed what happened to the $100 in question.

Aaron Delgado, the attorney the Police Benevolent Association retained to represent Gatling, said his client denies he did anything wrong was the "victim of very bad circumstances."

He also said a resolution is being worked that would result in the charge being dropped in exchange for Gatling surrendering his law enforcement certification.

"This is a story that should have had a happy ending to it," Delgado said. "Instead, a police officer's career came to a screeching halt."

In Florida, a second-degree misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

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