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SPD Officer Investigated For Excessive Force Against Homeless Man

Officer Derrick Gilbert is shown in a video allegedly swinging a homeless man into a ticket booth, injuring the man.

SPD Officer Investigated For Excessive Force Against Homeless Man

Updated 4:28 p.m.

A 15-year veteran of the Sarasota Police Department is on administrative leave while facing an internal investigation after a video surfaced of him pushing a homeless man during an arrest, causing serious injuries. 

Officer Derrick Gilbert is shown in a video uncovered by The Herald-Tribune pushing a homeless man identified as Roger Alan Fields into a ticket booth at the downtown Sarasota County Area Transit transfer station while being arrested on Oct. 6 for fighting a bus driver and a security guard.

Fields is shown in the video being loaded onto a stretcher, and he apparently sustained a gash near his left temple that required stitches, The Herald-Tribune reported. 

Fields, 52, was under influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content level of .078 at when brought to the hospital, according to the affidavit, and at the scene, Fields had spit in the face of the security guard Robert Sauder.

Fields ignored verbal demands of the officers, according to the affidavit.

Gilbert wrote in the affidavit that while he attempted to place Fields in handcuffs, Fields stopped up and "pulled his body away" to avoid being handcuffed.

The officer wrote that he pulled back on Fields' right wrist to attempt to bring him to the ground, Fields resisted, so the officer again attempted to use his right arm to bring Fields to the ground, but that Fields' "momentum carried him to the glass wall area of the terminal."

City Manager Tom Barwin announced the investigation in a news release Thursday morning. 

"This incident was brought to my attention this morning when a reporter called me and subsequently showed me the videotape,” said City Manager Tom Barwin.  “What I saw on that videotape was very concerning.  I contacted the SPD to ensure an Internal Affairs investigation is opened immediately. 

"Sworn officers with the Sarasota Police Department have been counseled repeatedly to treat all others with respect and dignity at all times even under trying and challenging circumstances.  Anything less is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  I’ll be meeting with newly appointed Chief Bernadette DiPino and the SPD command staff in December to redesign in-service training programs beginning in January.  I’d like to thank the reporter for bringing this to my attention so this incident can be dealt with swiftly.”

Barwin told the Herald-Tribune that the officer's actions was "clearly excessive force" and that he was getting tired of these situations.

DiPino will assume her post in January for the retiring Police Chief Mikel Hollaway. 

Fields faced a disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest without violence charges, according to the affidavit. 

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