Police officer under investigation after incident with man - FOX 13 News

Police officer under investigation after incident with homeless man

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The Sarasota Police Department is investigating one of its own after a video has surfaced of an officer allegedly slamming a homeless man's face against a window.

The city said Thursday that it is investigating the actions of Officer Derrick Gilbert, the officer in the alleged video, saying his actions were "very concerning."

It was first reported by the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

The newspaper reported that the video shows Gilbert slamming 52-year-old Roger Alan Fields into a ticket booth, splitting his head open. Fields had to get stitches, according to the newspaper.

It happened Oct. 6 at 9:30 a.m. at a bus depot on Lemon Avenue, the newspaper reported.

Fields' attorney says excessive force was used. Police chief Mikel Hollaway says Fields prompted the action.

According to the police report, Fields had alcohol in his system. It was at .078, just below the legal limit of presumed impairment. He was charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting without violence, according to the report.

He has pleaded not guilty.

The incident comes amid charges by advocates that the Sarasota Police Department is waging a "war against the homeless."

"I just think it is part of what we have been saying. There is a culture within the (police) department that is intolerant and insensitive to the rights of the homeless," said Mike Barfield, with the American Civil Liberties Union.

City manager Tom Barwin would not do an interview with FOX 13 today, but released this statement:

"This incident was brought to my attention this morning when a reporter called me and subsequently showed me the videotape. What I saw on that videotape was very concerning. I contacted the SPD to ensure an Internal Affairs investigation is opened immediately. Sworn officers with the Sarasota Police Department have been counseled repeatedly to treat all others with respect and dignity at all times even under trying and challenging circumstances. Anything less is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I'll be meeting with newly appointed Chief Bernadette DiPino and the SPD command staff in December to redesign in-service training programs beginning in January. I'd like to thank the reporter for bringing this to my attention so this incident can be dealt with swiftly."

LINK: Watch the video on the Sarasota Herald Tribune's website


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