Tampa police officers were called to a commercial part of town because of a disturbance, but it wasn’t a public brawl or anyone behaving in a disorderly manner. It was a 9-foot alligator Wednesday night ambling down a street not far from Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The urban gator whipped its tail several times when an officer first approached it, poking with an outstretched baton. A half dozen officers along with a crowd of spectators watched as lights from squad cars flashed on the blocked off street near W Kathleen Street and N Howard Avenue, according to bodycam video released by the Tampa Police Department.
The officer then fashioned a noose from a yellow rope and lassoed it around the top of the gator’s mouth.
“Ready?” one of the officers said. “You want to jump on him?”
And that’s what they did, as one officer went for the head with outstretched hands and another officer weighed down the rest of the alligator’s body. A third officer was recruited to help weigh the gator down.
The officer keeping the gator’s mouth shut asked his colleagues for a towel to cover its eyes and some duct tape to wrap its mouth. They also taped together the gator’s legs. “Behind his back, like you’re handcuffing him,” an officer said.
Phil Walters, an alligator trapper contracted with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Nuisance Alligator Program who was called in to assist the officers, said he was impressed with the job done by Tampa’s finest before he arrived at the scene.
“And they did a great job,” Walters told Tampa television station WFLA. “They had that thing taken care of for me.”