Sarasota Police have released footage today of an officer beating an intoxicated man outside of Ivory Lounge during an Aug. 4 arrest.
Judge Lee Haworth ordered the video to be released after the video was shown to the defense attorney of the arrested man, Jason Dragash, 29, of Sarasota, prompting the footage to be available for public inspection.
Because this is an ongoing court case, Florida State Statue of the Officers' Bill of Rights prevents police from discussing the investigation until its completion, Police Chief Mikel Hollaway said.
"I want to let you all know and my community to know that I take these allegations very seriously," Hollaway said at a press conference Friday afternoon at Sarasota Police Department headquarters. "That we are doing everything in our power to investigate this matter—this entire incident—very, very thoroughly."
The incident happened a little after 3 a.m. Aug. 4 when Officer Scott Patrick responded for a disorderly intoxicated customer at the nightclub where he was trying to detain and arrest Dragash, but according to police, Dragash was resisting arrest.
A surveillance camera captured footage of the arrest and it's being show to the public for the first time today.
That night, Dragash had made sexual comments to a 24-year-old woman and continued to harass her and her sister before police were called, according to the probable cause affidavit. Dragash then yelled obscenities about the women, according to the affidavit, and was ordered to stop disturbing the victim or face arrest.
Dragash then entered Ivory Lounge, which was cleaning up after closing time, and after initially complying with the officer's orders, Dragash proceeded to yell at the victims again and then moved toward the officer "in a threatening manner," according to the affidavit. Dragash then moved his arm toward his chest away from Patrick and Officer Tripp Schwenk, who arrived at the scene to assist, according to the affidavit.
The video shows an obstructed view of Patrick attempting to place Dragash under arrest and then an altercation where Dragah ends up on the ground and Patrick throwing several punches— about 10 according to the report.
In order to be arrested and stationary, Dragash was placed in a vascular neck restraint, according to the report. That restraint is used to "decrease the blood supply to the brain causing altered levels of consciousness." Officers L. Paris, Kimberle Vespia, Dan Coppinger and Schwenk helped assist in restraining Dragash due to the Dragash's strength, according to the report.
Dragash was then transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for his injuries, according to the affidavit.
The police report says that Dragash suffered lacerations and bruises on the right side of his face and then minor cuts on his right knee from broken beer bottles on the ground.
Police are required to fill out a level of resistance report when an officer uses physical force to have a suspect comply with orders.
In that report, Scott reported Dragash used "active physical" resistance, which says that the suspect "did not attempt to harm the officer."
After Patrick's shift commander was concerned about the case when he arrived at the scene and asked Ivory Lounge to view the tape, and accessed a copy for evidence then proceeded with an inquiry into the officer's actions, Hollaway said.
"Upon viewing that tape myself, the officer was placed on paid administrative leave," Hollaway said.
Hollaway ordered both a criminal investigation and an internal investigation, and the department's Disciplinary Action Board is reviewing the case, which will recommend what kind and how much discipline Patrick should receive, if any.
Patrick, a nine-year veteran with the force, and the review into his actions is expected to be completed in mid-November, according to police.
Officers under investigation have numerous rights, including the length of interrogations, cannot be threatened with dismissal, offensive language or transfer and must be given notice of any discipline before the effective date, according to the state's Officers' Bill of Rights.
New City Manager Tom Barwin is comfortable with the process.
"The Police Department and the city take this incident seriously and will be dealt with appropriately," Barwin said.