Tampa cop fired for video of woman being dragged to jail
The Tampa Police Department announced it fired the officer Tuesday after an internal investigation into a video in which he was seen dragging a woman to jail.
Last month, Gregory Damon violated several departmental policies in an incident in which a woman refused to get out of a patrol car to go to jail, according to a departmental press release. A review of body cameras and security footage showed that Damon grabbed her arm to the prison’s front door after she yelled at him, “I want you to drag me in,” in addition to other obscenities.
Damon also responded to the woman with “rude and derogatory comments,” the agency said.
Acting Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercow said Damon’s actions are “unacceptable and unacceptable in this department.”
“Professionalism is not only expected but required in every encounter our officers have with the public, whether the detainee is uncooperative or disgusted,” Bercow said. “As law enforcement officers, we hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
Damon was unable to speak to NBC News when he received the call Thursday. The Tampa Police Benevolent Association said in a statement that it is aware of the allegations against Damon but does not represent him in the case.
“However, we stand by the men and women of the Tampa Police Department who serve our citizens on a daily basis with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity,” the organization said.
The incident occurred Nov. 17 after police were called to the Tampa Family Health Center in connection with a report of a man sleeping outside the property and refusing to leave, police said. The woman, who had previously had an incident at the facility in October, was arrested for trespassing.
Chiefs of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the agency that runs the prison, referred Damon’s actions to the Tampa Police Standards Bureau. He was found to have violated several protocols, including rules regarding searches, transportation and booking of prisoners, reporting reactions to resistance, and treatment of prisoners.
The Tampa Police Department revised its protocols in 2013 after a similar incident with uncooperative prisoners.
“Detention assistants are to assist the officer in lifting the person from the vehicle and securing them to the restraint seat to be rolled into the reception area,” the agency said in a statement.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was department head when the policy went into effect. City Hall declined to comment on Thursday’s dismissal.
Damon’s firing comes after two other incidents of police misconduct at the Tampa Police Department in recent weeks.
Former City Hall boss O’Connor was asked to step down earlier this month after she and her husband were pulled over while driving an unregistered golf cart in November. During the stop, O’Connor showed her badge to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy and asked if he would let them go.
The incident was recorded on an MP’s body camera and O’Connor was placed on administrative leave.
“It is unacceptable for any public official, and especially for the city’s top law enforcement officer, to demand special treatment because of his position,” Castor said after his resignation. “Public trust in the Tampa Police Department is paramount to our success as a city and community.”
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