SARASOTA – A Sarasota Police Department officer is on paid administrative leave while an incident is investigated. His actions have some saying he used excessive force, and it was all caught on tape. We wanted to know what you think.
We showed that video to several people waiting to catch a bus at the transfer station in downtown Sarasota where the incident took place. They say judging by the video alone, they feel the officer clearly used excessive force, and now they say they hope city leaders take action and make some changes.
The incident was captured by video surveillance cameras at the bus station on October 6th. Authorities responded after receiving a call that a homeless man yelled profanity at a female bus driver and spit in a security guard’s face. According to the reports, the man resisted arrest.
“Even if he was maybe resistant a little bit, they still didn't have to slam his face into the glass. I think it's inappropriate,” says Sarasota resident Andrew Davenport.
Sarasota resident Angela Gallagher agrees. “I think they could've handled it differently. They could've restrained him, because he didn't really pull back too forcefully. They knew what they were doing, they slammed him. They didn't have to do all that.”
Susan Jennings of Sarasota says given all of the recent incidents, she feels there's a disconnect between the police department and the homeless. “He could've talked to the gentleman a little more and maybe got him to cooperate. But to take him and slam him up against that, that's uncalled for and I think they need to have more investigation into the Sarasota Police Department…too much going on.”
And after watching the video, Tyler Williams says he hopes city leaders take this incident seriously, and make some changes to ensure officer's aren't abusing their power. “I would like to see maybe better supervision about that, because doing stuff like that to random people is not acceptable to me.”
City manager Tom Barwin is organizing a city county Homeless Advisory Task Force after these recent incidents.
People we talked to Friday say it's reassuring that the matter is being taken seriously, but some say they still don't feel like any action will be taken to do things differently.