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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. 

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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