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Trouble isn't first for Tampa officer

Published Oct. 16, 2005

Police Officer Stephen K. McCammond, accused by his superiors of beating up a suspect, has been reprimanded twice for racial insensitivity or rudeness to the public. The man he is accused of beating, George Tyrone Daniels, also has a record of wrongdoing: Once he was accused of obstructing an officer, and three times he failed to show up in court to answer charges.

These facts emerged from police and court files Thursday as prosecutors considered whether to dismiss charges against Daniels, who is black, and as McCammond, who is white, readied his case for appeal to a review board.

Daniels was beaten Nov. 9, police say, when McCammond and another officer arrested him on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest with violence. Now that internal affairs detectives have upheld Daniels' complaints that McCammond used excessive force and that he lied during the internal investigation, it is unclear whether the original charges will stand up in court.

Daniels has been wanted since Jan. 18 for failure to appear in court, but prosecutors talked with his defense attorney and warrant officers Friday and decided that Daniels does not have to turn himself in until they review the case.

Also Thursday, Assistant State Attorney Chris Hoyer said no decision has been made on whether to charge McCammond with a crime. He said prosecutors and police met to discuss their options and decided it was better to let the internal affairs investigation run its course first.

If McCammond was criminally charged, Hoyer said, the internal investigation would have to wait until his trial was over. If he was acquitted, police might have to reinstate him.

"The objective was to get him off the force because they thought he was a bad cop," Hoyer said, "and we agreed."

McCammond is scheduled to go before a five-person review board, which will decide whether to uphold internal affairs findings and recommend to the police chief what kind of discipline McCammond should receive.

According to personnel files, McCammond was reprimanded in July 1987 when he took a photograph of Officer David D'Agresta in front of graffiti accusing D'Agresta of murdering a black man. Officials said the photograph caused "tension and grievance in the community."

D'Agresta is the officer who in 1987 used a choke hold that killed Melvin Hair, a black, mentally handicapped suspect who attacked him.

Hair's death touched off three nights of racial violence.

In April 1988, McCammond was also reprimanded for losing his temper in front of a man he was citing for a traffic infraction, telling the man, "Don't p--- me off."

Daniels' previous arrest came in May 1988 when Hillsborough County

sheriff's deputies stopped him for running a red light, then arrested him on charges of driving with a stolen and expired tag. When they tried to remove property from his pockets, they said, he struggled with them and was charged with resisting arrest.

Daniels failed to show up in court twice on those charges. On Dec. 11, Daniels applied for admission to a diversion program for first-time offenders and the state dropped the charges, records said.

Daniels also failed to appear in court on the charges McCammond filed against him. But according to his attorney, Paul D. Johnson, Daniels never got notice to appear because clerks sent it to the wrong address.