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SPD Officer Investigated For Excessive Force Against Homeless Man

Officer Derrick Gilbert is shown in a video allegedly swinging a homeless man into a ticket booth, injuring the man.

Updated 4:28 p.m.

A 15-year veteran of the Sarasota Police Department is on administrative leave while facing an internal investigation after a video surfaced of him pushing a homeless man during an arrest, causing serious injuries. 

Officer Derrick Gilbert is shown in a video uncovered by The Herald-Tribune pushing a homeless man identified as Roger Alan Fields into a ticket booth at the downtown Sarasota County Area Transit transfer station while being arrested on Oct. 6 for fighting a bus driver and a security guard.

Fields is shown in the video being loaded onto a stretcher, and he apparently sustained a gash near his left temple that required stitches, The Herald-Tribune reported. 

Fields, 52, was under influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content level of .078 at when brought to the hospital, according to the affidavit, and at the scene, Fields had spit in the face of the security guard Robert Sauder.

Fields ignored verbal demands of the officers, according to the affidavit.

Gilbert wrote in the affidavit that while he attempted to place Fields in handcuffs, Fields stopped up and "pulled his body away" to avoid being handcuffed.

The officer wrote that he pulled back on Fields' right wrist to attempt to bring him to the ground, Fields resisted, so the officer again attempted to use his right arm to bring Fields to the ground, but that Fields' "momentum carried him to the glass wall area of the terminal."

City Manager Tom Barwin announced the investigation in a news release Thursday morning. 

"This incident was brought to my attention this morning when a reporter called me and subsequently showed me the videotape,” said City Manager Tom Barwin.  “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.”

Barwin told the Herald-Tribune that the officer's actions was "clearly excessive force" and that he was getting tired of these situations.

DiPino will assume her post in January for the retiring Police Chief Mikel Hollaway. 

Fields faced a disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest without violence charges, according to the affidavit. 

Don D November 29, 2012 at 07:38 PM
The Sarasota Police Department needs to be disbanded. They cost taxpayers too much money with their ridiculous arrogance. I personally saw a officers arrogant attitude when he lost a ticket he should not of issued for a accident. Lt Boyd swept my complaint off said he would speak with officer BS is all I got to say. Who agrees let sheriffs department take over city?
Don D November 29, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I have met many fine County officers and am friends with a few of them. They are outstanding but like I said when it comes to the city they didn't even take my complaint in writing so hmmm did the officer of my verbal complaint get talked to I highly doubt it. Your comment is terrible as there are many fine officers doing a great job just for city I am sure there may be a ouple but I have yet to meet one and sure the sheriff would hire them f any good.
e p November 29, 2012 at 09:26 PM
don't see excessive force here. can see at :48, guy extend right arm into officer who was trying to cuff him, left arm first, officer immediately took incoming right arm force and threw him and the wall was there. Fields resisted arrest, defensive force was used. I would never be a police officer, risk your life for public safety for average pay, and get second guessed all the time. damned if ya do/damn if ya don't
Brent Kuehl November 29, 2012 at 09:42 PM
So the homless man spits in a security guards face then he resist being arrested. What did the officers do wrong? I just don't see anything here wrong except the spitting and resisting arrest.
Bailey November 30, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Officers are trained to take someone to the ground, trained to handle resist and yet a drunk homeless man sitting down was too much for him to handle without throwing him into a glass on metal corner splitting his face. Great because that's just what we need rather than just arrest him we need to make sure to spend tax money on a unnecessary ambulance and hospital visit. If you don't see what's wrong with this picture you're no hope for humanity. That is all..
Hildie November 30, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I agree with ep! the suspect resisted the officers direction as soon as the officer guides or attempts to secure the suspect he pulled away. That, folks, is resisting arrest (obstruction). The officer is then compelled to use any force necessary to effect the arrest. In fact, Im surprised the officer let this suspect continue standing on the ground. This shows some serious restraint on the officers part. In all text book scenarios like this, the suspect should have been taken down to the ground to gain compliance and deescalate the resistance as quickly as possible. Just my 2cents* but he should be cleared of any wrong doing. On the other hand, lets talk about the aggravated batter the suspect committed on the security officer. think of the transmitted diseases which he must be tested for as a precaution related to spitting bio hazardous material in his eyes? Nice work by the SPD officer.. btw.. im not a spd officer...
Bill November 30, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Arresting someone for cause is one thing; brutalizing a helpless human being is another. The officer in question should be terminated immediately. The video of the New York officer giving a pair of boots to a barefoot homeless man should be compulsory viewing by all members and associated of (and apologists for) the SPD,
Alicia November 30, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Gilbert and Officer Patrick ought to share a cell together with a hard criminal. Then see how tough they are. This police brutality needs to stop!! Hey, SPD, quit hiring hot heads who think their badge gives them the right to treat people inhumanely and knowingly keep them on staff!! Officer Patrick had 14 complaints filed against him before he was finally caught on camera beating and choking out someone. I wonder how many times Gilbert did that and got away with it before gettin caught on camera.
brian November 30, 2012 at 03:27 PM
You people are a bunch of idiots..SOme of the comments here are discusting. Are you kidding me. I would love to see some of you out there dealing with these nasty vulgur people. Saying SPD needs to be disbanned, idiot.... The same people who cry for help asking the officers in the picture are the same people who cry abuse,,grow up . I think law enforement should be able to protect themselves in whatever manner they need to so they to can come home to their familys after being out there protecting our lives property and environment. THANK YOU SPD.
Bill November 30, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Slamming a helpless man's face into a metal post is not "protecting" oneself, it's brutality. Too bad you can't understand that any more than you can spell.
DomWar November 30, 2012 at 04:35 PM
So this "victim" fights with a bus driver and a security, spits in the security officers face, is intoxicated, and resists arrest and its the police officer who is at fault? Police officers are the men and women who make life safe for all of us, they're the ones who come running to our aid in the middle of the night - people sure are happy enough to see the police then. Perhaps the officer should have called his "victim's" mom to come and mollycoddle the guy into custody. Since when is drunk and aggressive in the right; I don't see anyone else in the video trying to apprehend the man - how long did other people wait for those officers to arrive.
brian November 30, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Reta and Bill you both need THERAPY and glasses. Oh and Im not a law enforcement officer but I do suggest if your a property owner in Sarasota City the very very small amount of your tax that goes to their very small pay gets you the service you deserve,,NONE.
Bill November 30, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Therapy and glasses, huh? What you need is a G.E.D. No one is undervaluing the police; we are aware of their service, the risks they take, and all the rest; and they probably are underpaid for what they do. But if you are really interested in supporting the police and in enhancing both their status and their reputation, you should be on the front line of those demanding that the department get rid of its abusers, ruffians and otherwise undesirables. You do the SPD no favors by defending the bad apples.
Brent Kuehl December 01, 2012 at 03:48 AM
This is not about the homeless this is about someone that SPIT in the face of someone and when he was told he was under arrest to put his arms behind his back he pushed his arm out to resist detention. End of story.
Brent Kuehl December 01, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Reta, Bill and Brian enough of your calling names on each other and insults. All of you need to take a step back and think. "Treat others as you would want to be treated" This man that spit in another mans face got off easy.
Bill December 01, 2012 at 11:45 AM
You don't get it, do you? As I noted yesterday, arresting a person for cause (i.e., spitting in a man's face) is one thing; brutalizing the perpetrator is something else altogether. If having your face smashed is "getting off easy," what would be more just? And if "treat others…" is the mantra of choice, with which few would quarrel, what do you say to the officer in this case?
Glenn Weber December 01, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Officer Derrick Gilbert is a disgrace to the Sarasota Police, citizens of this Sarasota city and to other police forces in which he had served up north - Allentown Police Academy, Lehigh County Sheriff and Wilson Borough Police. This officer has had two prior "excessive force" complaints against him in past, this will be his third while serving the Sarasota Police Department.
Spunky December 02, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I do believe the police officers in this country have a major problem with their arrogance and lack of training. These types of stories are coming to light through out the country from aggressive behavior by the police to the homeless, families in need all the way to just gunning down family pets. Once I invited an officer into our home from the sheriff department. He sat down on my couch began giving me information about the burglary that had taken place next door, My puppy put her feet on his legs and this officer did not push my puppy down he slammed her to the ground. I stood up and demanded he leave my home because the puppy he slammed on the ground lives here he did not. Several years after that the sheriff department was in my neighborhood having a car abandoned in the middle of the street removed. I opened my garage door, walked down the drive way to put mail in the mail box, and the officer actually was so arrogant or paranoid, she actually put her hand on her gun when she saw me walking down my drive way. Every citizen in this country has small stories like these two I have just told that all add up to the police departments are full of arrogant, paranoid men and woman, who need a lot more training. To my local police department: I will not talk to you with out a lawyer and you are not allowed on my property or in my home without a warrant, because you are to protect and serve, but only end up terrorize people without solving anything.
Becca Hill December 03, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I'm sorry to hear of these terrible stories. I have not had such unfortunate experiences. I'd like to give a nod to the officers who deserve thanks and appreciation. A few years ago I had a home invasion in the middle of the night upstairs in my room. - VeRy sCaRey! I managed to escape harm and called 911 for assistance. In no time there was a team of officers right there. I remain grateful for their prompt response and apparent concern for my welfare.
sharon December 05, 2012 at 03:48 AM
First off this ordeal has nothing to do with his being homeless. Plenty of people with homes get arrested for drunkeness and fighting.Why does the story have to put in that he is homeless? A person who is homeless is just that, whithout a home. It could happen to any of us in this economy.
sharon December 05, 2012 at 04:00 AM
to serve and protect, not to harrass and arrest
sharon December 06, 2012 at 09:54 PM
This takes me back over 40 yrs. In Dayton, OH there was a homeless man w no shoes. My father was a cop in Kettering, OH. It seems all the cops knew about the poor guy and tried to help him. You know, a coat,dinner, cup of coffee, room at the Y.My dad bought him a pair of boots. It was winter and of course it does snow and is very cold. Sadly or happily he finally got put in Dayton State Hospital. (psych) I never heard about him being violent, he just walked around all the time.I saw him a few times.
Lisa Ledwith December 08, 2012 at 05:29 AM
ALL of this makes me sad. I was married to a SPD Police officer. He was a good man. Not a perfect man, but a good one, a good cop. Sadly there are bad apples at the SPD and in the County too, this is a FACT! I said this just a week ago, when we were kids, we were taught to go to a police officer if we needed help. As an adult, I have done that and did NOT like what I saw. Things DO NEED TO CHANGE. In my opinion Officer Gilbert (not the 1st time) needs to be fired. But than again, I have said that before, only to see them back on duty a few weeks later. Sad. I hope the New incoming Chief will make changes and for the better of the public. I pray for our men and women in uniform, for there are MANY good ones too, please don't forget them.
sharon December 09, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Why is this man an "officer of the law"? He seems from what I've read to be a criminal in disguise, not a policeman. My father was a police Lieutenant in OH years ago. He would have never tolerated this behavior from one of his officers!! What happened to serve and protect? I know things are different, people are more violent, but an officer is supposed to compose himself/herself and conduct themselves respectfully. I have spoken to many who do, and many who don't. Too bad there's so many bad apples.
jojo December 31, 2012 at 12:04 AM
The officer used the very minimum use of force to effect this arrest. If you radicals don’t like it---MOVE.
Kathy FlorCruz January 01, 2013 at 06:43 PM
The homeless aound Sarasota are targets of the police either by just being out there or by the police being instrumental in doing things like throwing a group of about 100 of them onto the street with nowhere to go -from a camp that had been there so long it was organized, clean & unobtrusive. There was no humane reason to make those people move-they were not hurting anyone & at night they had somewhere safe to be. The issue is HUGE here in Sarasota when there are legions of homeless people who have no resourses, they are likely to get high or are untreated for mental issues, & will encounter the law. But, even when they come together to make a decent camp so as to not be offending anyone-they are rousted anyway. Ridiculous. As for police everywhere-when we are under undeclared martial law-you can expect more & more brutalty. If you don't believe it, look at TSA EVERYWHERE. 10 years of TSA infringing on peoples rights-yet it still goes on & is expanding-because fools believe its necessary for "National Security". TSA hasn't caught a single "TERRORIST" in TEN YEARS. Keep blindly following "AUTHORITY" & never hold questionable actions by them accountable & you get MORE tyranny.And we are ALL paying & will be paying for this travesty of authority & illegal actions by our government forever. The war machine is always fully funded & trillons are unaccounted for-yet the American people don't seem to mind whats been gong on. Better wake up, sheeple.
sharon January 01, 2013 at 09:23 PM
But for the Grace of God go I. In this economy, with people losing their jobs or hours being cut, almost any one of us who is not wealthy could become homeless. All it would take is to have your hours cut or lose your job, an unexpected expense, such as major car repair, and an illness, ie. child becomes ill, or adult becomes ill, and savings become depleted. Unable to pay mortgage/rent, and boom, you're homeless. Don't think it could happen to you? Keep thinkin.
Sick&Tired April 06, 2013 at 03:12 PM
They should have shot him. It woluld be one less idiot slowing up traffic standing in the median asking for my money.

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