An off-duty Sarasota Police Department officer was arrested Friday evening at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport for allegedly pushing a flight attendant, battering his own son and refusing to leave the airport after he was told he was too drunk to fly.
Derrick Gilbert, 51, was trying to fly to Greensboro, N.C., with his son, Tai, 18, on Allegiant Airlines Flight 834, according to a release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. When Gilbert boarded his flight, he was slurring his words, his eyes were glassy and he seemed “confused,” deputies said. He appeared to be too drunk to find his seat, deputies said.
When flight attendants asked Gilbert to leave the flight — Allegiant has a rule against flying intoxicated — Gilbert initially refused. He eventually left the plane, but not before allegedly pushing 25-year-old flight attendant Kelby Oats, witnesses said. He also pushed his own son, who was trying to get him to leave, and grabbed him by the neck, witnesses said.
Deputies were called to the scene to find Gilbert yelling profanities and refusing to leave the ramp from the plane to the terminal. Authorities told Gilbert that if he didn’t leave the airport, he’d be arrested for trespassing. Gilbert responded by saying that he couldn’t be arrested because he was a Sarasota police officer, deputies said.
Gilbert was arrested and charged with one count of battery, one count of domestic battery and one count of trespassing. Sarasota Police Department said in a release that it had put Gilbert on administrative leave pending an investigation.
“We hold our Officers to the highest standard of both professionalism on and off duty,” said Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. “I’ve instructed our Internal Affairs Division to conduct a through investigation.”