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

The Tampa Police Department announced it had fired an officer Tuesday following an internal investigation into a video showing him dragging a woman to jail.

Gregory Damon violated several department policies last month during an incident in which a woman refused to get out of a patrol vehicle to enter the jail, the department announced in a news release. A review of body camera and surveillance footage showed Damon grabbed her arm toward the jail’s front door after she yelled at him, “I want you to drag me,” along with other obscenities.

Damon also responded to the woman with “rude and derogatory comments,” the department said.

Acting Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said Damon’s actions were “unacceptable and are not tolerated in this department.”

“Professionalism is not only expected, but required, in every encounter our officers have with the public, whether or not the arrestee is uncooperative or unpleasant in return,” Bercaw said. “As law enforcement officers, we are held to a higher standard.”

Damon was unable to speak to NBC News when contacted 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.

“However, we stand with the men and women of the Tampa Police Department who serve our citizens on a daily basis with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity,” the organization said.

The incident occurred on November 17, after officers were called to the Tampa Family Health Center by an individual who was allegedly sleeping outside the property and refused to leave, police said. The woman, who had a previous incident at the facility in October, was arrested for trespassing.

Supervisors from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the agency that runs the jail, referred Damon’s actions to the Tampa Police Bureau of Standards. He was found to have violated multiple protocols, including policies related to prisoner search, transport and booking, response to resistance, and treatment of persons in custody.

The Tampa Police Department revised its protocols in 2013 after a similar incident involving uncooperative prisoners.

Police officer Gregory Damon drags a woman across the floor of the Orient Road Jail in Tampa, Florida on November 17, 2022.Tampa Police Department via AP

“Detention officers are to assist an officer in lifting the individual from the transport vehicle and secure him in a restraint chair to take him to the entry area,” the department said in its news release.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was the department head when the policy was implemented. The mayor’s office declined to comment on the termination Thursday.

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

Former boss Mary O’Connor was asked to resign earlier this month after she and her husband were pulled over in November while driving a golf cart with no license plates. During the stop, O’Connor showed her badge to a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy and asked if she would let them go.

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

“It is unacceptable for any public employee, and especially the city’s top police leader, to request special treatment because of their position,” Castor said after resigning. “The public’s trust in the Tampa Police Department is paramount to our success as a city and community.”

An official was put on leave on December 16 after an accident where he was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on suspicion of driving under the influence. The outcome of the investigation in that case is still pending.