Riviera Beach Councilman Terence Davis spoke for the first time on camera about what happened to the text messages on his city-issued cellphone WPTV had requested.
As part of a public records request, WPTV had asked in November for those text messages. In February, when the city still hadn't handed over any of them, WPTV filed a lawsuit against the city.
The city then admitted that the over 80 text messages we requested had been professionally and intentionally deleted.
When WPTV asked to have our expert examine the councilman's phone, the city said the phone had fallen into the ocean.
Davis had since refused to speak to WPTV about the issue but on Wednesday he broke his silence.
Here is the exchange with Contact 5 investigator Wanda Moore:
Reporter: "Can you tell me how your phone fell into the ocean?"
Davis: "What will state is that, on the record, that I did not anything illegal. My text messages that were deleted, professionally, was not done by me. I have signed an affidavit, proving that, to send to the judge, to make sure that if anybody did that, whoever did that, is held accountable. Because whoever did it, they did it without me knowing. And that's sad for what happened. But I did not throw my phone into the ocean. I did nothing illegal. I gave the judge anything he asked for. You'll get more information in the future."
Reporter: "And you have no idea who did it?"
Davis: "We, we, staff is doing their due diligence. Once we find out exactly who did it, we're hoping to get some outside help with it, and we will release it. And I told staff, once we find out who it was, I would like to press charges against whoever did it. Because I had no kind of capacity, I had no idea, that my phone was even, that they didn't even have the messages. I turned my phone in, just like if you saw the statement from the judge. I gave them my phone and I was understanding that my phone was ready, not knowing it wasn't ready. And nobody ever said anything so I re-submitted the phone and made sure my staff member was there to see it done. And that's when everyone found out what happened. Then we brought someone from outside to find out what happened. I was clueless about it."
Reporter: "When your phone fell into the ocean, where you on a boat, where you on a beach? Can you describe to me what happened?
Davis: "I was very clear in my statement to the judge. Everything is very clear. Like I said, I did nothing illegal. Be very specific about that. You will get some more information in the future so the whole story can come out. That's a lot going on that folks need to hear. And I'll give you that much."
Riviera Beach's IT Manager, Elvis Mella, told WPTV's attorney that he felt he was being made the scapegoat in this. Mella said he did not delete the messages. He has since resigned.
At this point, WPTV's attorney has not received a signed, sworn affidavit from Davis yet.
Scripps Only Content 2018