A police officer in Tampa, Florida, was let go after body-cam footage showed him literally dragging an uncooperative female in handcuffs through a parking garage on her way to jail.
The Tampa Police Department fired officer Gregory Damon after an internal investigation into the incident, claiming that even though the woman had refused to cooperate — and had even instructed him to go ahead and drag her — he had failed to remain “professional” throughout their interaction.
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) December 27, 2022
According to a report from local NBC News affiliate WFLA, the incident had occurred just over a month earlier — on November 17 — after police were dispatched to the Tampa Family Health Center, where a woman was allegedly sleeping outside and had refused to vacate the property.
The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was reportedly warned about trespassing at the health center a month earlier — so when Damon arrived on the scene and she still refused to leave, he arrested her.
After their arrival at the Orient Road Jail, the woman refused to get out of the vehicle and would not walk to the door under her own power. Damon told her: “I’m going to drag you out of this car,” and she could be heard yelling back, “I want you to drag me!”
In addition, she continued to hurl obscenities and insults at Damon as he proceeded to do exactly what she had told him to do — drag her by the arm through the parking garage from his vehicle to the door. WFLA noted that she was not injured by the officer.
Once the two reached the door, Damon reportedly called on booking officers to assist him in getting the woman to her feet and through the booking process.
When the department announced Damon’s termination on Tuesday, however, they said that he had violated a number of department policies when he delivered the woman to jail. First, they said that he should have called for assistance from the booking officers as soon as she refused to get out of the vehicle. And in addition, they noted that he had responded to her insults by making rude and insulting comments about her — and they said that it was his responsibility to remain professional in spite of her comments and actions.
“Throughout the incident, the female repeatedly used vulgar and obscene language. Rather than remaining professional, Damon himself made rude and derogatory comments to the arrestee,” investigators reported. Additional reports noted that department policy — as of 2013 — explicitly stated that dragging an uncooperative person was not acceptable behavior. Damon had been with the department since 2016.
When investigators determined that there had been no just cause for Damon’s policy violations, interim Police Chief Lee Bercaw announced Damon’s termination and issued a statement of his own.
“Professionalism is not only expected, it is demanded, in every encounter our officers have with the public, regardless of the arrestee being uncooperative or unpleasant in return. As law enforcement officers, we are held to a higher standard,” he said.
Bercaw went on to say that he believed letting Damon go was the right decision, explaining that he could not allow one officer’s actions to “tarnish the work” of other officers who did follow proper procedure and behave professionally in the face of similar circumstances.
“This former officer’s actions were unacceptable and are not tolerated at this department, which is why we acted swiftly in initiating an internal investigation, relieving him of his duties, and ultimately terminating his employment,” he said.