TAMPA — Tampa police fired one of their officers on Tuesday after he was recorded dragging a handcuffed woman across the ground into a Hillsborough County jail reservation room.
An investigation found that Officer Gregory Damon violated several departmental policies in the November 17 incident.
It happened after he and other officers were called to the Tampa Family Health Center at 4620 N 22nd St. in the Belmont Heights neighborhood early that morning. People at the clinic reported that the woman was sleeping outside the building and refusing to leave the facility.
Police said the same woman had previously been told to stay away from the facility. She was arrested on trespassing charges.
When Damon arrived at Orient Road Prison with her, the woman refused to get out of the back of the patrol SUV, police said.
A body-worn camera video released by police on Tuesday captured his interaction with the woman.
“I’m going to drag you out of this car,” he told her.
“I want you to drag me,” she said.
The video shows officers grabbing her arm and pulling her out of the car, traversing a long concrete floor toward a sign reading “Search for Arrested Persons” beyond the doorway to the central reservation room. It shows how to move her with The woman speaks defiantly and beats the police all the way.
As he dragged her away, the officer stopped and told the woman to stand up.
Damon continued to drag her to the door.
Tampa Police did not name the woman in a news release about the incident. The addresses she listed are facilities in Tampa that serve homeless people. She was taken to jail at 10:19 am that day for trespassing. Her appointment note shows she was released to a mental health facility a few days later. Criminal charges against her continue to be filed.
A prison supervisor run by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reported the incident to the Tampa Police Department. The next day, an investigation was launched by the Office of Professional Standards. Damon was relieved of duty while the investigation was ongoing.
The department’s policy on dealing with uncooperative detainees in prisons states that officers should seek assistance from prison reservations staff. A prison agent can help officers lift the person into a restraint chair and transport him to prison.
Police said they fine-tuned their policy after a similar incident in 2013, adding language that it was inappropriate to drag out uncooperative individuals.
In a news release, police said the woman used vulgar and obscene language toward officers, while Damon also made rude and derogatory comments toward her. It contained rules dealing with the etiquette of
Investigators reviewed the officers’ body camera footage and surveillance video from the prison, and interviewed Damon, but found no clear justification for policy violations.
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The investigation ended Tuesday with a decision to fire Damon. He has been working as a Patrol Officer since 2016.