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Complaint against officer is thrown out

Published Feb. 28, 2006

Darryl Rouson's discourtesy complaint against a police officer who pulled him over last year has been thrown out after an internal affairs investigation.

Rouson, former head of the St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP, filed a complaint against Officer James Knight, the same officer who killed a black St. Petersburg teen nine years earlier.

Knight pulled Rouson over on Oct. 24 for expired plates on a 2001 Ford Excursion owned by Rouson's wife.

Rouson told police that Knight was rude and insulting during the stop, and his tone of voice was "unprofessional, inciteful and threatening."

Rouson also told an investigator that Knight approached the car and said, "Give me your driver's license or I'll arrest you for obstructing."

Shortly after that, according to Rouson's statement, Knight recognized who Rouson was.

Knight provided a different version of what happened.

He said he approached the driver's door and asked for Rouson's license and registration.

Rouson quickly pointed out that he knew who Knight was, he said.

Rouson made several derogatory remarks, Knight said.

When informed the vehicle's tags were expired, Rouson jumped out of the car to see for himself. Upon confirmation, he walked back to the car, still holding his license and registration.

At that point, Knight said, he told Rouson to give him the information or he would be arrested for obstruction.

Rouson's run-in with Knight came on the ninth anniversary of the day Knight shot and killed 18-year-old TyRon Lewis of St. Petersburg, sparking several days of civil unrest in the city.

The investigation found that Knight used proper and professional tone, citing that "tone of voice and facial expressions are a matter of perception." It was also noted that Rouson seemed to hold resentment toward Knight.

Rouson said he wasn't surprised by the ruling.

"In subjective situations, it is not unusual for that finding," said Rouson, on vacation in London. "What is very telling about the entire episode was its timing. It's just my belief. . . . He's a terrible officer who is going to cost the city at some point again."

Marlon A. Walker can be reached at (727) 893-8737 or