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Tampa police officer terminated over video of woman being dragged to jail

Body-worn camera and security video showed the officer grabbed her by the arm and dragged her to the jail's front door after she yelled at him, "I want you to drag me."

Tampa, Florida, police announced they had terminated an officer Tuesday after an internal investigation into a video in which he was seen dragging a woman into jail.

Gregory Damon violated multiple department policies last month during an incident in which a woman refused to get out of a patrol vehicle to be booked into jail, the police department announced in a news release. A review of body-worn camera and security video showed that Damon grabbed her by her arm and dragged her to the jail's front door after she yelled at him, "I want you to drag me," in addition to obscenities.

Damon also responded to the woman with "rude and derogatory comments," the police department said.

Interim Police Chief Lee Bercaw said Damon's actions were "unacceptable and are not tolerated at this department."

"Professionalism is not only expected, it is demanded, in every encounter our officers have with the public, regardless of the arrestee being uncooperative or unpleasant in return," Bercaw said. "As law enforcement officers, we are held to a higher standard."

Damon was unable to speak when he was reached by phone Thursday. The Tampa Police Benevolent Association said in a statement that it was aware of the allegations against Damon but was not representing him in the matter.

"We do however support the men and women of the Tampa Police Department who serve our citizens daily with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity," the organization said.

The incident occurred Nov. 17, after officers were called to Tampa Family Health Center for a report of a person sleeping outside the property and refusing to leave, police said. The woman, who had a previous incident at the facility in October, was arrested for trespassing.

Supervisors at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which manages the jail, referred Damon's actions to the Tampa police standards bureau. It was determined that he had violated multiple protocols, including policies regarding searching, transporting and booking of prisoners, reporting response to resistance and treating a person in custody.

The police department had revised its protocols in 2013 after a similar incident with uncooperative prisoners.

Police officer Gregory Damon drags a woman across the floor at Orient Road Jail in Tampa, Fla.
Police Officer Gregory Damon drags a woman across the floor at the Orient Road Jail in Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 17.Tampa Police Department via AP

"Detention deputies must assist an officer with lifting the individual from the transport vehicle and securing them in a restraining chair to be rolled into the intake area," the police department said in its news release.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was chief of the department when the policy took effect. The mayor's office declined to comment on the termination Thursday.

Damon's termination comes after two other incidents of police misconduct at the Tampa Police Department in recent weeks.

Former Chief Mary O’Connor was asked to resign this month after she and her husband were stopped in November while driving a golf cart without a license plate. During the stop, O'Connor flashed her badge at a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy and asked whether he would let them go.

The deputy’s body camera recorded the incident, and O'Connor was placed on administrative leave.

"It is unacceptable for any public employee, and especially the city's top law enforcement leader, to ask for special treatment because of their position," Castor said after O’Connor resigned. "Public trust in Tampa's police department is paramount to our success as a city and community."

An officer was placed on leave on Dec. 16 after a crash in which sheriff’s deputies arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence. The outcome of the investigation in that case is pending.