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POLICE INVESTIGATE CLAIM THAT OFFICER BEAT MAN

Clarence Jones says he has facial, arm and chest injuries. Officers say he resisted arrest.

Tampa police are investigating a complaint by an East Tampa man who alleges he was beaten by an officer.

Clarence Steven Jones, 20, was booked into the Orient Road Jail after being stopped at 1:45 a.m. at N Avon Avenue and Nordica Street in Robles Park and charged with resisting arrest, a police report shows.

According to the report, Officer James Neil saw Jones and thought he looked like someone he had previously charged with trespassing at the housing complex.

Neil asked Jones for identification. Jones said he didn't have any.

That's when the officer said he detected an odor of marijuana coming from Jones, who was arrested last year on charges of marijuana possession and giving a false name to officers.

A second officer wrote that Jones responded: "You're in the projects. You're always going to smell marijuana."

Neil wrote that he tried to search Jones for marijuana. Jones stiffened up and began to move his body from side to side.

At that point, officers said they took Jones to the ground, but said Jones continued to resist. Officer Elvin Cruz grabbed Jones' right hand and moved it behind his back.

"To gain compliance, I delivered one controlled strike to his face to (break) his focus," Neil wrote. "This technique was successful and I was able to accomplish handcuffing."

Cruz wrote that Jones began yelling racial slurs during the arrest, which Jones denied.

Jones told the Times he was on his way to get cigarettes for his mother when an officer stopped him, hit him in the face with a closed fist five or six times, and used a racial slur.

He said he suffered scratches to his arms and chest, and slight swelling on his face. In a jail booking photo and a picture Jones e-mailed to the Times,it is hard to see any facial injuries. The pictures show a small scratch on his chest and some discoloration on his arm.

Jones said he filed a complaint with the Police Department on Tuesday morning after his release on $500 bail.

Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said she couldn't comment on the internal inquiry.

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