Tampa police officer loses job after dragging woman into jail

TAMPA – The Tampa Police Department fired one of its officers Tuesday after he allegedly dragged a handcuffed woman to the ground toward a Hillsborough County Jail booking room.

The investigation found that Officer Gregory Damon violated several department policies during the Nov. 17 incident.

It happened after he and other officers were called to the Tampa Family Health Center at 4620 N 22nd St. in the Belmont Heights area earlier that morning. People at the medical office reported that a woman was sleeping outside the building and was refusing their requests to leave the property.

The same woman was previously told to stay away from the property, police said. She was arrested on trespassing charges.

The woman refused to get out of the back of his patrol SUV when Damon arrived at the Orient Road Jail with her, police said.

A body-worn camera video released by police on Tuesday captured his conversation with the woman.

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“I’m going to drag you out of this car,” he told her.

“I want you to pull me,” she said.

The video shows the officer grabbing her by the arm and pulling her out of the vehicle, then walking her down a long stretch of concrete floor toward a “Search Your Arrestee” sign on the door to the central booking room. The woman speaks rudely, scolding the entire officer.

As he pulls her over, the officer stops and tells the woman to stand up. She lives on land.

Damon kept pulling her towards the door. He pressed the call button, summoning two Hillsborough County Jail deputies to come out to help bring the woman into the room.

Tampa police did not name the woman in a news release about the incident, but jail booking records show she is 46 years old. Her listed address is a Tampa facility that provides services to the homeless. She was booked into the jail at 10:19 a.m. that day on trespassing charges. Booking notes indicate she was released to a mental health facility a few days later. A criminal case is pending against him.

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Supervisors at the jail, which is run by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, reported the incident to the Tampa Police Department. An investigation by the Professional Standards Bureau began the next day. Damon was relieved of his duties while the investigation was ongoing.

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Department policy on dealing with uncooperative detainees in jail states that officers should request assistance from jail booking staff. Jail deputies can help an officer lift a person into a restraint chair to wheel them into the jail.

Police said they changed their policy after a similar incident in 2013, adding language that it is inappropriate to pull over a person who is uncooperative.

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In a news release, police noted that the woman used vulgar and obscene language toward the officer, but Damon also made rude and insulting comments toward her. Violations of their policy include rules addressing public courtesy.

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Investigators reviewed the officer’s body camera footage and surveillance video from the jail and interviewed Damon, finding no clear evidence of a policy violation.

The investigation ended Tuesday with the decision to fire Damon. He was working as a patrol officer since 2016.


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