Officer cleared of excessive force accusation on homeless man

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SARASOTA, Fla. – Last October, a homeless man accused of disorderly intoxication was thrown head-first into a metal railing by a veteran Sarasota Police officer. The police department's internal affairs unit has cleared that officer of any wrongdoing.

Officer Derrick Gilbert, a veteran with the Sarasota Police Department, has said it was momentum that carried 52-year-old Roger Allen Fields face-first into a metal railing. Now his own department seems to agree with him, as an Internal Affairs investigation has cleared Officer Gilbert of any wrongdoing and of the use of excessive force.

The incident happened on October 6th last year at the bus transfer station on Lemon Avenue in downtown Sarasota. Fields, who was reportedly acting disorderly and intoxicated, spit in the face of a security guard there. He was also yelling profanities at a female bus driver when Officer Gilbert arrived on the scene. The officer attempted to handcuff Fields, who then lunged forward. Some will say it appears Gilbert threw Fields into the metal railing.

Fields suffered a laceration to his head and required stitches. That prompted the Internal Affairs investigation.

We spoke with Chief Bernadette DiPino, who understands not everyone will agree with the department's findings. “I understand that the people have mixed feelings about this, but they don’t have all of the facts and all of the circumstances that led up to, before, during and after, that our investigators looked at in this case.”

Fields was charged with several more counts of Disorderly Conduct as well as Resisting Without Violence. He has claimed in the past he's going to file a civil suit against the city. So far we have no new information on that claim.