Twelve Army Reservists from the 351st AG Postal Company say they were looking for a site for a future picnic at Silver Lake National Park in Tallahassee earlier this week.
The Reservists admit they did not pay the $3 entry fee to the park and were given citations from the U.S. Forestry Service, but the Reservists say they were treated terribly, verbally abused by the U.S. Forest officer and an assisting Leon County deputy.
But now the Leon County Sheriff's Office has decided the complaint is unfounded.
MAJ John Schmidt of the Leon County Sheriff's Office says, "In this situation we were not wrong. The military folks started this situation off on the wrong foot, and when confronted by cops, treated them without courtesy."
MAJ Schmidt is talking about the incident at Silver Lake National Park when 12 Reservists claimed a deputy and a U.S. Forest Service officer verbally attacked the reservists after they failed to pay the park entry fee, but LCSO says there's more to it.
John Schmidt says, "They ignore stop signs, other signs and marked vehicles, and drove into the park."
The LCSO report says when the U.S. Park officer approached the Reservists for non-payment, Schmidt says, "She was met immediately with argumentative and combative behavior from the military personnel."
But the Reservists say that it was the U.S. officer and the deputy who were verbally abusive first.
SGT Michael Russ, spokesperson for the 12 Reservists, says, "Me and 12 other soldiers were treated with such disrespect that it's just uncalled for. I'm appalled that Larry Campbell would allow this."
The Reservists also say they will continue to fight the three $50 citations, not because of the money, but because of the way they were treated.
Michael Russ says, "It's not an issue of the ticket; it's an issue of respect."
LCSO and the 12 Reservists agree it is about respect, but the question is who forgot to pay it first? The U.S. Park Service is conducting its own internal investigation at this time.