18-year-old Palmetto man charged with pistol-whipping person on Siesta Key on Memorial Day

Sheriff’s Office says case not related to shooting

Aaron D. Payton. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

An 18-year-old Palmetto man has been charged with Aggravated Battery after he allegedly pistol-whipped another person on Siesta Key on the afternoon of Memorial Day, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has reported.

That incident was not connected in any way to the shooting that occurred on the island the same day, Maj. Ryan Brown, leader of the agency’s Law Enforcement Division, stressed to The Sarasota News Leader on June 1. (See the related article in this issue.)

Aaron D. Payton, of 121 E. 45th St. in Palmetto, also was charged with one count each of Battery: Touch or Strike; Carrying Concealed Weapon: Unlicensed Firearm; and destroying evidence, the Probable Cause Affidavit says.

Payton remained in the Sarasota County Jail on the morning of June 2, awaiting transfer to Manatee County law enforcement officials, the Corrections Division records noted. His total bond was set at $23,500. Of that amount, the records showed, $20,000 was for the Aggravated Battery charge.

The records also said that his arraignment has been scheduled for July 8.

In the Probable Cause Affidavit, a deputy assigned to Siesta Key Beach wrote that just after 4:30 p.m. on Memorial Day, he was dispatched to Beach Access 2 in response to a call about a physical altercation. On his way to the scene, the affidavit indicates, the dispatcher alerted the deputy that “a firearm was involved.”

When he arrived, the deputy continued, about 50 people attempted to wave him down. He talked with several individuals, the deputy added, including an adult victim who provided the deputy a statement and a description of the suspect.

That victim explained that “a physical altercation with two males was taking place” when the victim saw Payton approach those who were fighting, the deputy continued. The victim added that he saw Payton brandish a firearm and then proceed to pistol-whip “an unknown person in the back of the head.”

Scared and worried about the safety of nearby beachgoers, the victim tried to disarm Payton, the victim told the deputy. Payton then struck the victim “with a closed fist once in the side of the head,” and both fell to the ground, wrestling over the firearm, the affidavit added.

Payton regained possession of the gun — which the affidavit identifies as a .22-caliber handgun — and fled on foot, the victim told the deputy.

The deputy who took the victim’s statement alerted a second deputy and a sergeant, providing them Payton’s description and the direction in which he left the beach, the affidavit continued. “[Payton] was located running nearby on Avenida Messina,” the affidavit said.

A witness reported that Payton threw the handgun into bushes, the affidavit added. Officers were able to recover the firearm, the affidavit noted.

This is an aerial view of a portion of Avenida Messina, including its intersection with Ocean Boulevard in Siesta Village. Image from Google Maps

A second victim, who is a juvenile, called the Sheriff’s Office at 7:49 p.m. on Memorial Day, the affidavit continued. That victim reported that he knew the suspect as “Aaron” and then provided officers “a social media photograph of [Payton],” the affidavit added.

That victim “believes [Payton] has a prior issue with him,” the affidavit said. “The juvenile victim was witnessing an altercation at which time he was struck in the back of the head,” the document noted. When he turned around, the affidavit continued, he saw Payton “pointing a firearm at him,” the affidavit said. The juvenile fled the area, the document added.

That victim sent photos of his injuries to the Sheriff’s Office via text, the affidavit said.

After Payton was in custody and he had been read his Miranda rights, the affidavit added, Payton said he understood his rights and agreed to speak with the deputy.

Payton “confirmed he saw a physical altercation on the beach [but] said he knew none of the parties involved,” the affidavit continued. Payton explained that he “believed the victim was looking directly at him at the time of the battery,” and then the adult victim approached him, the affidavit said. Payton told the deputy that he did not remember whether he struck the adult victim, the document pointed out.

Several sentences were redacted in that portion of the copy of the affidavit provided to the News Leader.

Based on the two victims’ accounts and Payton’s statement, the affidavit said, the Sheriff’s Office charged him with the four counts on which he was jailed.

The victims opted into Marsy’s Law, the affidavit noted, which allows them to shield their names and addresses.

Prior charges against Payton

A News Leader search this week of 12th Judicial Circuit Court records found only one other Sarasota County case involving Payton. Just before 9 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 10, he was cited for driving 116 mph in a 70-mph zone on Interstate 75. A Florida Highway Patrol officer used radar to determine his speed, the citation indicated.

Court records show that, on March 23, Payton failed to appear in court on that charge. On March 24, his license was suspended as a result of that and the fact that he had not paid the $363 fine, the case docket notes.

Finally, on May 18, the records show, he appeared before a judge via Zoom. He was ordered to complete eight hours in Traffic School, with half of that time to be logged by Aug. 10, the document says.

When the News Leader checked the Manatee County Clerk of Court’s records, it found that Payton had been charged with six traffic infractions since Jan 14. Four of those occurred in April, the records note. The most recent of those reports — dated April 22 — show Payton was cited for not having his driver’s license with him and having no taillights on his vehicle. The citation says he was stopped at 1:34 a.m. by a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

The 5400 block of 14th Street West in Bradenton is the area where a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy stopped Aaron Payton on April 22. Image from Google Maps

On May 12, Payton paid the full fine in those cases, the docket notes.

In regard to a seventh traffic incident, dating to Dec. 9, 2021, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office charged Payton with having no valid driver’s license. He pleaded not guilty on Jan. 14 and demanded a jury trial, the docket shows. That trial has been scheduled for June 13 in the Manatee County Judicial Center, the records note.

Further, on April 13 of this year, Payton was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana, the Manatee County Clerk of Court records show, and he failed to show up in court for the May 16 hearing.

The judge in that case issued a “bench warrant” for Payton’s arrest and set his bond at $500, the records say.

This is a copy of the bench warrant. Image courtesy Manatee County Clerk of Court