Tampa police use Taser to subdue agitated lawyer

TAMPA — Police used a Taser stun gun on a Tampa lawyer Wednesday as they were ejecting him from a city Code Enforcement Board meeting.

Carl Roland Hayes, 53, has racked up more than $1,000 in fines over the past month for installing aluminum windows — not wooden ones — in his 1913 Seminole Heights home.

At Wednesday's meeting, the board considered his appeal of the citation for not complying with historic preservation codes. Police said he became so frustrated about the situation that officials asked him to leave.

As Officer Dan Miller escorted Hayes from the third-floor room of 315 Kennedy Blvd., Hayes slapped the officer's face, according to Lt. Ronald McMullen.

Miller deployed his Taser on Hayes, with little effect, police said. So, Miller stunned Hayes a second time, this time placing the gun directly against Hayes' body, McMullen said. Then, two officers took him to the ground and handcuffed him.

"I really don't know what happened," Hayes said in a brief call from jail Wednesday night. He said he didn't hear anyone ask him to leave. He said the Taser to his chest caused him to bleed. But his call to the Times was disconnected after a few sentences.

According to records, Hayes began racking up fines at $60 per day starting Oct. 24 for violating historic preservation codes by installing aluminum windows in a 2005 rear addition to the home, at 5115 N Branch Ave.

Writing to code enforcement on Oct. 31, Hayes said he had brain surgery this year and lost more than half of his income.

"I am not wealthy and could only afford the aluminum windows for the back of my house which are safer, affordable and more efficient," he wrote.

Wooden windows would have cost him $300 to $400 each, and he has 19 to replace, he said.

Code enforcement learned of the windows when a neighbor complained, said Rick Barcena, of the Code Enforcement Board.

Wednesday, the board denied Hayes' appeal.

"The only thing that we can do as a board is to deny it because he didn't comply," Barcena said. "And … the fees still accumulate. … Once you comply, you can ask for a fine reduction."

Hayes offered to replace one or two windows a month, then got emotional when, as he was leaving, historic preservation code inspector Aminta Owen said replacing one window a month was insufficient and would take too long, Barcena said.

"He turned around to all the white people in the room and called them racist and told them 'get a life, don't you have anything better to do, I'm just trying to live my life.' '' Barcena said.

Owen could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

After police took Hayes from the room, Barcena said he heard yelling and swearing.

City Council member Joseph Caetano wants a full report. "I don't think they should have Tasered him," he said. "You can die from being Tasered."

Caetano and City Council member Tom Scott said they sympathize with people with financial difficulties who face code enforcement fines.

"There are times when you have to try to compromise, especially right now," Scott said.

Records show Hayes, a 1999 candidate for the City Council, filed for bankruptcy last year and refiled again in April of this year.

He is charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, trespassing after warning and obstructing an officer with violence. He was being held on $4,500 bail.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy and staff writer Colleen Jenkins contributed to this report.

Tampa police use Taser to subdue agitated lawyer 11/26/08 [Last modified: Saturday, December 6, 2008 6:03pm]

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