BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - An internal investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office found no wrongdoing by deputies in the arrested of a 70-year-old grandmother in Bradenton that was caught on camera and sparked outrage among community activists.
We want to warn you some viewers may find the video with this story upsetting.
Community activists say the video depicts “brutal” behavior by deputies and suggest it was racially motivated, while the sheriff’s office says 70-year-old Barbara Pinkney was obstructing their ability to serve an arrest warrant.
The internal investigation supported the sheriff’s office conclusion. Here’s what it found.
The day after Christmas last year, deputies went to Pinkney’s home on 27th Avenue Drive East to arrest Tevin Turner. Deputies had an arrest warrant for Turner, who was on probation for possession and sale of cocaine and carrying a concealed weapon.
According to his probation officer, Turner violated his probation by failing a drug test, possessing marijuana, and answering an inquiry untruthfully.
As part of his probation, Turner was required to keep his most recent address up-to-date and listed Pinkney’s home as his primary residence. Pinkney is Turner’s grandmother and the probation officer verified in October that Turner was living in a back room of the home with his girlfriend. It was also the address on Turner’s driver’s license, which was issued in 2015.
In early December, Turner told his probation officer that he might get kicked out because his grandmother was threatening to not let his girlfriend stay in the home. Turner told his probation officer that if he was kicked out, he would go to the Salvation Army. But on December 12, the day before the arrest warrant was issued and two weeks before the arrest warrant was executed, the probation officer visited the Salvation Army and found no record of Turner having been there.
Deputies went to Pinkney’s home around 7am on December 26 to arrest Turner.
Pinkney tells ABC7 that she woke up that day, which happened to be her birthday, to deputies at her door. According to Pinkney, “It wasn’t really a knock. It sounded like a kick, really.”
But the internal investigation found that deputies first positioned themselves in front of and behind the home and then knocked once and identified themselves. A woman looked out the window at them, but it took two additional knocks before Pinkney came to the door with Turner’s girlfriend behind her.
Pinkney says after she answered the door, she told deputies that Turner wasn’t home. When deputies said they needed to come inside the home to search it, Pinkney refused.
The internal investigation found deputies explained to Pinkney more than once that under Florida law, they were allowed to enter the home, do a quick search in each room for Turner, and then leave. They also explained that Turner had listed her home as his primary residence and that they had reason to believe he was inside.
Pinkney refused to allow deputies inside, saying they needed a search warrant, though at one point the internal investigation says she did offer to allow them to search all but a particular bedroom.
In the meantime, Pinkney’s son, Paul Johnson, and another man exited the home and spoke to deputies as more personnel from the sheriff’s office arrived on scene. Deputies learned from a neighbor that Turner was frequently at the home.
Based on their suspicion that Turner was inside, deputies made the decision to enter the home, but say Pinkney pushed one of them in the chest and would not let go of the doorknob. One deputy moved to take her under arrest for obstruction.
Community activists argue deputies’ actions were “excessive” because Pinkney was thrown to the ground and tased more than once.
“Then he shot me again and again and again, I just hollered and I’m just crying,” said Pinkney. “When I got tased, I hollered. I guess I fell to the floor. I got scratched and bruised."
But the internal investigation found the deputy attempting to arrest Pinkney tried to use his stun gun three times, but with no results.
The first time, the deputy fired the stun gun, but only one probe struck Pinkney. Both probes must enter a person to conduct an electrical charge.
The second time, the deputy attempted to perform a drive stun. But the device had been placed into “safe” mode before the probe cartridge had been removed.
Finally, the third time, he attempted to release a five-second energy cycle, but found it was ineffective as it still took a second deputy to get Pinkney’s arms behind her back and place her in handcuffs.
While this was happening, her son and the other man outside the home moved toward deputies. Though the other man stopped as instructed, deputies say Johnson continued to try to move forward to intervene in the arrest of Pinkney. As a result, deputies took Johnson to the ground and put him under arrest for obstruction.
During the commotion of the arrests happening at the front of the home, the K9 officer behind the home left his position to make sure his fellow deputies were okay. That left a three-minute window through which Turner could have escaped the home, according to the internal investigation.
The internal investigation concluded the deputies’ actions were “lawful, proper, and in accordance with agency policy.”
Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells says there wouldn’t have been an arrest had Pinkney and her son complied with deputies.
“She decided to not allow the deputies access, that would’ve been a quick five-minute search if he wasn’t there, we believe he was and they would’ve been out of her house,” said Sheriff Wells.
Last month, national civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his co-counsel announced they were filing a notice of intent to sue the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Crump said deputies did not have the right to enter Pinkney’s home without a search warrant after she said no to their request.
The internal investigation notes Florida Statute 901.19 states “if a peace officer fails to gain admittance after he or she has announced both authority and purpose in order to make an arrest by a warrant, the officer may use all necessary and reasonable force to enter any building or property where the person to be arrested is, or is reasonably believed to be.”
Read the full report for yourself below: