MANATEE COUNTY -- The nightmare for John Coffin and his sister Barbara Parsons began on a Halloween night two years ago as they drove home after a hospital visit with their ailing mother.
As Coffin approached his sister's Bradenton home, a sheriff's cruiser pulled up, lights flashing. Deputy Grant Steube made a traffic stop because he thought the car's license tag was fake.
He realized later that he was wrong.
When Coffin got out of his car to talk with Steube, things quickly fell apart. Within minutes, Steube sprayed Coffin in the face with Mace and clubbed him several times with a metal rod called an asp.
"He was like a mad animal coming out of a cage," said Parsons, 53, a retired bookkeeper who has lived in Bradenton for nearly 30 years. "He was like a monster in a horror movie."
Coffin and Parsons were arrested and spent the night in jail. Neither had been arrested before, their attorneys say.
Coffin, 55, a burly heart patient who manages rental properties, was charged with a felony, resisting arrest with violence. Parsons reportedly interfered with deputies and was charged with resisting arrest without violence, a misdemeanor.
Prosecutors soon dropped the charges, saying the state cannot prosecute a person following a deputy's mistake.