ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer has been suspended for two weeks following accusations that he was caught this summer masturbating in a downtown parking lot.
Officer Andrew Cane, 38, was off duty and in his personal vehicle on the afternoon of Aug. 25 when a tow truck driver came upon him in a lot at 801 Central Ave.
The driver for A-1 Recovery was preparing to haul away the vehicle, which was in a tow away zone, when he realized it was running and approached the passenger window.
The tow driver said he saw a man inside apparently masturbating, according to an investigative report. The tow truck driver called police.
Officer Teddy Williams responded just before 2:30 p.m. and was startled when he recognized the vehicle's occupant. He advised Cane about the allegations and told him he needed to leave the lot.
Cane, who has been on the force since 2010, denied that he had been masturbating, but admitted his genitals were exposed when the tow truck driver approached, according to a memo Police Chief Tony Holloway wrote this week.
Cane told investigators he had just finished teaching a class at the police academy and was headed home. He said he pulled over to rest.
A criminal investigation was initiated, Holloway's memo said. Police spokesman Mike Puetz said investigators determined Cane did not intend to expose himself to the public.
"It would not have been something we would have arrested (someone) for or forwarded to the state for prosecution," he said.
An internal investigative report said Cane later gave a statement saying he was embarrassed a citizen saw him in this situation. He asked for assistance with stresses in his life.
Cane has not had any previous discipline. He has received high marks in his evaluations and was praised as a "motivated, courteous and professional law enforcement officer," according to his personnel file.
In addition to the suspension, Cane was removed from the SWAT team and Honor Guard and received a mandatory referral to the employee assistance program.
Contact Kameel Stanley at email@example.com or (727) 893-8643. Follow @cornandpotatoes.