Police in Tampa, Florida, fired an officer on Tuesday following an internal investigation into a video in which he was seen dragging a woman into jail.
Gregory Damon violated multiple department policies last month during an incident in which a woman refused to get out of a patrol vehicle to be booked into jail, according to a news release from the police department. According to body-worn camera and security video evidence, Damon grabbed her arm and dragged her to the jail’s front door after she yelled at him, “I want you to drag me,” among other expletives.
Damon also made “rude and derogatory comments” to the woman, according to the police department.
Damon’s actions, according to Interim Police Chief Lee Bercaw, were “unacceptable and will not be tolerated at this department.”
“Professionalism is not only expected, but demanded, in every encounter our officers have with the public, regardless of whether the arrestee is uncooperative or unpleasant in response,” Bercaw said. “We are held to a higher standard as law enforcement officers.”
Damon was unable to speak when contacted by phone on Thursday. In a statement, the Tampa Police Benevolent Association stated that it was aware of the allegations against Damon but was not representing him in the matter.
“We do, however, support the men and women of the Tampa Police Department who serve our citizens with the utmost professionalism and integrity on a daily basis,” the organisation stated.
Officers were called to Tampa Family Health Center on Nov. 17 for a report of a person sleeping outside the property and refusing to leave, according to police. The woman, who had previously been arrested at the facility in October, was charged with trespassing.
Damon’s actions were referred to the Tampa police standards bureau by supervisors at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which manages the jail. He was found to have violated multiple protocols, including those governing the searching, transporting, and booking of prisoners, responding to resistance, and treating a person in custody.
After a similar incident with uncooperative prisoners in 2013, the police department revised its protocols.
“Detention deputies must assist an officer in lifting the individual from the transport vehicle and securing them in a restraining chair to be rolled into the intake area,” according to a news release from the police department.
When the policy went into effect, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was the department’s chief. On Thursday, the mayor’s office declined to comment on the termination.
Damon’s dismissal follows two other instances of police misconduct at the Tampa Police Department in recent weeks.
Former Chief Mary O’Connor was asked to resign this month after she and her husband were pulled over in a golf cart without a licence plate in November. During the stop, O’Connor showed a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy her badge and asked if he would let them go.
The incident was captured on the deputy’s body camera, and O’Connor was placed on administrative leave.
“It is unacceptable for any public employee, particularly the city’s top law enforcement official, to request special treatment because of their position,” Castor said after O’Connor resigned. “Public trust in Tampa’s police department is critical to our city’s and community’s success.”
On December 16, an officer was placed on leave following a crash in which sheriff’s deputies arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence. The investigation in that case is still ongoing.