ORLANDO, Fla. — An arraignment hearing is pending in Hillsborough County where embattled professional guardian Rebecca Fierle will have to appear to answer to a pair of felony charges filed against her.
- Deputy's body camera captures arrest of guardian Rebecca Fierle
- In video, she says she had deal to turn herself in the next day
- She's also seen joking "I'm not on meth" to arresting deputy
- RELATED: Embattled Guardian Rebecca Fierle Charged in Ward's Death
Spectrum News obtained deputy body-worn camera footage from Fierle’s arrest Monday.
In the video, Fierle tells Marion County deputies arresting her on a state warrant that she and her attorney had brokered a deal with prosecutors to turn herself into the Hillsborough County Jail the following day.
"Interesting. They assured me they would cooperate — imagine that," Fierle says to a deputy at her front door.
Fierle at times appears at ease, even laughing during the moments before her actual arrest. She is later seen in the video walking out of her home, then being cuffed as she laughs with the deputy, telling him, "I’m not on meth" and saying, "…I know you’re not an (expletive)."
Fierle remains the focus of ongoing criminal investigations being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida attorney general, and other agencies.
Agents obtained felony charges against Fierle stemming from the May 2019 death of 74-year-old Steven Stryker, over whom Fierle had obtained court-appointed guardianship.
Investigators say Fierle quickly filed a "do not resuscitate" order against the wishes of Stryker and his family members and ordered his feeding tube capped against the advice of doctors.
Those actions, state agents argue, directly led to Stryker's death.
"Seven (7) days after being appointed Steven Stryker’s guardian, Fierle executed a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR) for Steven Stryker without judicial review," the arrest report states. "The investigation revealed that Steven Stryker did not have a terminal illness and did not want a DNR in place. On May 13, 2019, while at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa within Hillsborough County, Florida, Steven Stryker died. Because of the DNR established by Fierle, no life-saving measures were taken by the medical personnel to preserve Stryker’s life."
Stryker’s family long accused Fierle and AdventHealth of improperly petitioning the court for guardianship in the first place.
A July 2019 investigation by the state Office of Public and Professional Guardians concluded Stryker, along with his daughter Kim and family friend Linda Lanier, whom he appointed as his durable power of attorney, had all expressed their disapproval of the guardianship assignment.
The report also says that when Kim Stryker pressed Fierle in May 2019 on why a "DNR" had been filed against her dad's wishes, Fierle reported said she did it regularly.
"When she (Kim) asked Fierle about the DNR order, Fierle told her that her decision was a "quality of life, rather than quantity matter," the OPPG report states.
In filing for an arrest warrant, state agents say Fierle repeatedly went against the wishes and recommendations of Stryker, his family, and doctors in lifting the DNR and changing her mind about having his feeding tube capped, all while saying Fierle has no medical training or background.
"…Fierle willfully, or by culpable negligence neglected Steven Stryker, an elderly person, and in doing so caused greatly bodily harm to Stryker," the arrest report states. "Fierle was Stryker’s caregiver and she failed to provide him with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain his physical health. Fierle insisted that the PEG (feeding tube) be capped and ignored Stryker’s desire to live and the advice of multiple medical professionals when she refused to rescind the DNR."
Fierle nor her attorney have returned repeated requests for comment.
A Spectrum News investigation determined in July 2019, Fierle was actively serving as a court-appointed guardian for at least 450 individuals. The expanding allegations of Fierle’s physical and financial abuse of her wards remains under investigation.
Two previous Orange County Comptroller investigations questioned Fierle’s handling of her wards' finances as another uncovered evidence showing AdventHealth paid Fierle almost $4 million.
Spectrum News's investigation into the claims of neglect and failures within the state’s guardianship system prompted Florida Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom and Gov. Ron DeSantis to take action. Prudom told Spectrum News that his office has been involved in crafting legislation to give more safeguards to seniors. A pair of bills addressing some of the guardianship issues are now up for consideration in the full Florida House and Senate for the 2020 legislative session.