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St. Petersburg officer in May groin-kicking incident resigns

Published Oct. 4, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer who was caught on camera appearing to kick a Hillsborough firefighter in the groin during a May arrest resigned last week, before an internal review process into his conduct was completed.

Officer Ruben DeJesus was one of several St. Petersburg police officers who arrived at Del Mar Gastro Lounge at 243 Central Ave. on May 7, after reports of a man at the lounge being knocked out by another patron.

A witness pointed to firefighter Clinton Walker as a suspect, prompting DeJesus to detain him for questioning, according to an arrest report, which said Walker became combative and had to be shocked with a stun gun.

An arrest report said fellow firefighter Robert Ramirez repeatedly approached officers in an aggressive manner. Both firefighters were arrested, but their charges were later dropped.

Surveillance video showed DeJesus appearing to kick Walker in the groin after he was shocked. DeJesus also shook Ramirez's face while he was handcuffed and shoved him while he was being escorted out of the lounge, the video shows.

The matter was being investigated by the department's Office of Professional Standards, but DeJesus resigned before facing a hearing where he would learn of potential consequences for his conduct.

Jerry Theophilopoulos, the attorney representing the firefighters, called DeJesus' resignation an admission of guilt meant to evade punishment.

"What he chose to do was wait until the very last minute and resign from his job, rather than go into that hearing and answer questions," the lawyer said.

Police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said she couldn't speak to whether DeJesus' resignation is connected to his pending judgment.

"Everyone viewed that (video) as unfortunate because he had been an upstanding officer for so many years," Fernandez said.

DeJesus, 55, was hired by the agency in 1985.

Fernandez said the police department is still looking for the person who punched the bar patron. The investigation is ongoing, Fernandez said.

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