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Tampa probation officer sues after altercation with subpoena server

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Eric Hall was on leave from his job as a probation officer when he encountered Donna Horn, a criminal investigator from Largo, who was there to deliver a subpoena.

The confrontation did not go well for Hall, a 46-year-old former U.S Marine from Tampa, resulting in his arrest, job loss, legal accusations on both sides and now a lawsuit to clear his name.

By the time of the encounter, Horn, 48, had already visited Hall’s workplace, allegedly storming out after his co-workers refused to give her his contact information.

According to Hall, the investigator showed up at his apartment and “banged violently” on his door. It was enough for Horn to cause hundreds of dollars of damage, he said.

Meanwhile, Hall was in the bathroom – and allegedly afraid. He grabbed his gun before asking who was at the door.

Of the subsequent altercation, both sides have varying accounts.

Horn alleges that Hall threatened to shoot her; she called 911. Hall was later arrested and charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly firearm. He was also fired from his job.

However, court documents tell a somewhat different story.

“Horn was simply not a credible witness. She was evasive on direct and cross-examination, and she was uncooperative in responding to questions … The State Attorney determined that the State was unable to satisfy its burden of proving the criminal aggravated assault against Mr. Hall beyond a reasonable doubt … The evidence at the hearing failed to establish that Mr. Hall violated the law or any agency disciplinary standard or that he should have been arrested.”

The report concluded that the Florida Department of Corrections did not have cause to discipline Hall and on May 25, issued its final order reversing Hall’s dismissal. The county prosecutor also dropped all criminal charges against Hall.

Hall has since filed suit against Horn and her business, Horn Investigative Group LLC, accusing her of “filing a false complaint, lodging vicious defamatory attacks against him and his character and destroying his personal and professional reputation,” causing him “great stress and embarrassment.”

He also alleges “audio and video recordings posted on various websites” continue to cause him reputational harm, possibly referring to a “mugshot” appearing on a website detailing his 2015 arrest.

A call to the DOC revealed Hall was no longer an employee – the result of an “Extraordinary Dismissal” in December 2015. The agency would not provide further information.

Horn said she had “no comment” to ongoing litigation. Requests with Hall’s attorney have not yet been returned.

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