Monday, December 11, 2017
Public safety

St. Petersburg police officer used too much force during jail booking, chief says

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was suspended for four days Wednesday for dragging a drunken woman across the floor after she refused to cooperate while being booked into jail.

Police Chief Chuck Harmon said Officer Christopher Goodwin, 47, used an excessive amount of force during his interactions with 49-year-old Debra Leibrock, who was arrested April 13 for trespassing and disorderly intoxication.

Leibrock suffered minor injuries and complained to the mayor's office.

According to internal affairs investigators, Goodwin responded that morning to Trinity Lutheran Church, 401 Fifth St. N, where volunteers were serving breakfast to the homeless.

People there called police after Leibrock, who was intoxicated, started causing trouble.

Goodwin pulled up and ordered Leibrock to leave. She started to walk away, then turned back and smashed a bottle in the middle of the road.

Goodwin tried to handcuff her, police said, but Leibrock began to flail around and then went limp. The officer took her to the ground and half-dragged her by the shirt collar to his cruiser.

He called paramedics to examine a gash on her face.

Once inside the police car, Goodwin said, Leibrock became docile. She chatted with him and complained her head hurt. The officer promised a nurse would examine the wound.

But when they got to the jail, Leibrock became uncooperative again, Goodwin said. Leibrock plopped on the pavement and refused to move. A video from the jail shows her trying to evade the officer's grasp.

Goodwin notified jail deputies of Leibrock's status. But before anyone came to help, he again grabbed the woman by her collar and dragged her inside the jail.

An intake deputy at the jail told internal investigators Leibrock "was not providing any physical resistance to the officer other than sitting down on the ground," according to documents released by police.

"Deputy Hall was 'shocked' by the officer's actions and stated he had other options available to him for assistance," the documents said.

Yet people who were at the church that day, including G.W. Rolle, an advocate for the homeless, said they didn't see anything wrong with Goodwin's conduct. They said the officer was professional and wanted to thank him for taking care of the problem.

Leibrock has a criminal record that dates back to 1997. Her most recent arrest was a week ago for disorderly intoxication.

Goodwin, who has been on the force since 1991, told investigators he knows he could have done things differently and that it was inappropriate to drag Leibrock into the jail.

Harmon said Goodwin's actions violated a general order against unbecoming conduct.

"He handled the entire incident appropriately, except for his actions in the sally port area of the Pinellas County Jail," Harmon wrote in a memo. "He was remorseful for his actions and any embarrassment it may have brought to the agency."

In addition to Goodwin's case, department officials also reviewed two fatal shootings. Officers in both cases were ruled justified in their use of force in the deaths of Arthur Allen Dixon Jr. on March 10 and Pamela Dale Kirk on April 28.

Dixon rushed at two officers with a pair of scissors after a failed negotiation attempt, officers said. Authorities said Kirk, who suffered from mental health issues, pointed a gun at an officer as he tried to speak to her through a window.

Prosecutors cleared the three officers of any criminal wrongdoing earlier this year.

Comments
Residents wonder what’s next after fire destroys Tampa apartments (with video)

Residents wonder what’s next after fire destroys Tampa apartments (with video)

TAMPA — When her apartment complex caught fire Monday afternoon, Peaches McIntyre grabbed her four children and baby stroller and ran outside.Hours later, she looked at the smoldering building with her 5-year-old autistic son, Choice Underwood, huggi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Mother, sons lose everything in fire -- except her daughter’s urn

Mother, sons lose everything in fire -- except her daughter’s urn

ST. PETERSBURG — The day after a fire claimed most of Jahmeshia Jackson’s possessions, the 27-year-old mother returned to the house she and her sons had escaped, trying to salvage what she could. She hoped her washer and dryer still worked. But most ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Clearwater, authorities say

CLEARWATER — A 38-year-old tree trimmer is in critical condition after he was shocked by a power line Monday, according to Clearwater Fire & Rescue.Ernest Harlen, of Largo, was on a ladder cutting trees with a pole saw when he was shocked just before...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Father of Seminole Heights victim repairing damage after vandals hit son’s memorial

Father of Seminole Heights victim repairing damage after vandals hit son’s memorial

TAMPA — Weeks after burying his son Anthony Naiboa, one of four people gunned down over the span of 51 days in Seminole Heights, Casimar Naiboa has a new and unwanted ritual.He drives past a makeshift memorial his family made for his son, set up wher...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bomb strapped to man explodes in New York subway; 3 hurt

Bomb strapped to man explodes in New York subway; 3 hurt

NEW YORK — A man inspired by the Islamic State group set off a crude pipe bomb strapped to his body Monday in a crowded subway corridor near Times Square, injuring the man, slightly wounding three others and sending New York commuters fleeing in terr...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lakewood High on lockout after report of weapon on campus

Lakewood High on lockout after report of weapon on campus

Lakewood High in St. Petersburg was placed on lockdown Monday morning following reports of a weapon on campus, but the threat was later downgraded and the school was placed in lockout status instead. St. Petersburg Police spokeswoman Sandra Bentil s...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Firefighters brace for second week of California wildfires

Firefighters brace for second week of California wildfires

LOS ANGELES — As Southern California enters its second week engulfed in flames, fire officials anticipate more growth and danger due to continued strong wind gusts, no rain and decades-old dry vegetation. A powerful flare-up on the western edge of th...
Published: 12/11/17
Reasons elusive as Pinellas EMS demand skyrockets

Reasons elusive as Pinellas EMS demand skyrockets

When the fire chief asked if anyone in the room had fallen before, a few in the gray- and white-haired crowd raised their hands. One woman lost her footing as she was answering the phone. Another saw a palmetto bug, sprayed it with repellent, then s...
Published: 12/11/17
‘What I am detained for?’ Comedian Hannibal Buress arrested in Miami

‘What I am detained for?’ Comedian Hannibal Buress arrested in Miami

Popular comedian Hannibal Buress was arrested Saturday night in Wynwood on a disorderly intoxication charge after an encounter with a police officer.Buress, 34, was booked into a Miami-Dade jail at 1:57 a.m. Sunday and posted bail just before 6 a.m.,...
Published: 12/10/17
Florida Uber driver charged with sexual assault of passenger

Florida Uber driver charged with sexual assault of passenger

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida Uber driver is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a drunken passenger.The Orlando Sentinel reports that 38-year-old Jorge Alberto Antunez Quintero was charged this week with sexual battery after an investigation ...
Published: 12/09/17