TAMPA – The Tampa Police Department fired one of its officers Tuesday after he was filmed dragging a handcuffed woman across the ground toward a booking room at the Hillsborough County Jail.
An investigation revealed that Officer Gregory Damon violated several department policies during the Nov. 17 incident.
It happened after he and other officers were called early that morning to Tampa Family Health Centers at 4620 N 22nd St. in the Belmont Heights area. People from the medical office reported that the woman was sleeping outside the building and was refusing their requests to leave the property.
The same woman had previously been told to stay away from the property, police said. She was arrested on trespassing charges.
When Damon arrived with her at the Orient Road Jail, the woman refused to get out of his patrol SUV, police said.
Dashcam footage released by police on Tuesday captured his interaction with the woman.
“I’m going to get you out of this car,” he told her.
“I want you to drag me,” she said.
The video shows the officer taking her hand, pulling her out of the vehicle, then moving her across a long concrete floor toward a sign that reads “search your arrestee” above the entrance to the central booking room. The woman speaks defiantly, all the while scolding the policeman.
While dragging her, the officer stops and tells the woman to stand up. She stays on the ground.
Damon continued to pull her towards the door. He pressed the call button, summoning two Hillsborough County Jail deputies to come outside and help bring the woman into the room.
Tampa police did not name the woman in a news release about the incident. But the prison’s booking data shows that she is 46 years old. Her listed address is a facility in Tampa that provides services to the homeless. She was booked into the jail at 10:19 a.m. that day on a trespassing charge. Booking notes show she was released to a mental health facility a few days later. The criminal proceedings against her continue.
Supervisors at the jail, which is operated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, reported the incident to the Tampa Police Department. An investigation by the Office of Professional Standards began the next day. Damon was relieved of his duties while the investigation was ongoing.
The department’s policy on handling uncooperative detainees at the jail states that officers should request assistance from jail booking staff. Jail deputies can help an officer lift a person into a restraint chair to take them to jail.
Police said they changed their policy after a similar incident in 2013, adding language that it was inappropriate to pull over an uncooperative person.
In a press release, police noted that the woman used vulgar and obscene language toward the officer, but that Damon also made rude and derogatory comments toward her. His violation of the rules involved rules of public courtesy.
Investigators reviewed the officer’s body camera footage and video surveillance from the jail and spoke with Damon, finding no clear justification for the violation.
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The investigation was concluded on Tuesday with the decision to fire Damon. He has been working as a patrol officer since 2016.