Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville police: Officers didn't single out black minister after robbery

BROOKSVILLE — An investigation by the Brooksville Police Department has concluded that its officers responding to the armed robbery of a pizza store did not single out for harassment a black man who was inside when they arrived.

Elijah Harris, an African-American Brooksville minister, said he entered the Little Caesars Pizza, 682 S Broad St., about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday just moments after two men had robbed the store.

Harris said two officers responding to the scene ordered him to the floor at gunpoint, while white customers inside the store were not ordered to do anything.

Police Chief George Turner said in a three-page memorandum that a review by a detective did not find any procedural violations by the officers, nor any instances of racial profiling.

Turner said the detective reviewed a 911 dispatch call and interviewed two employees of the store as well as the officers involved and their supervisors. The investigator did not interview Harris.

Based on that review, the chief concluded, "There is absolutely no evidence that the Officers acted in any manner that would single out Mr. Harris. On the contrary, all witness statements indicate that the Officers directed all within the store to follow lawful orders during a normal response for a robbery in progress. This was done in the interest of safety for all."

Turner did not respond to repeated calls Monday for comment.

Harris, 31, a pastor of Second Chance Restoration Ministries in Brooksville and an officer at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County, said he filed a complaint with the Police Department on Saturday. The department did not provide a copy of the complaint to the Times on Monday.

The review says that after the robbery, employee Cassie Le­Blanc, 19, ran out the back door and called 911 as she hid in the rear of the plaza.

When officers arrived and asked if the robbers were still inside, she said, "I don't know, I think so, you guys need to go!" She then saw the officers go to the store with guns drawn, yelling, "Get on the ground."

When asked whether the officers singled out any specific person, LeBlanc reportedly laughed and said no.

Police also interviewed cashier Otis Hamilton, 18, who denied telling the Times last week that Harris was the only person police ordered to the ground.

He told the detective that when the two officers entered with guns drawn and said, "Get on the ground, don't move!" Harris went to the floor and another customer raised her hands. Hamilton shouted that the robbers had run off. Police later arrested two men in connection with the armed robbery.

Harris disputed several points in a Hernando Today story Friday, including a statement by Hamilton that Harris reached for his wallet when he was ordered to get down on the floor.

"Had I tried to pull my wallet out, I would have been shot," Harris said. Hernando Today did not interview Harris for its story.

Turner said an employee at the Little Caesars Tampa office said the store's surveillance cameras do not record the store's lobby, where the incident occurred.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or 848-1435.

Brooksville police: Officers didn't single out black minister after robbery 11/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 12:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans

    Blogs

    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.