Pinellas Park, FL — Sheriff’s deputies in Pinellas County have been under an internal affairs investigation after alarming dash cam video was released that clearly showed them beating and choking a man who appears to be complying with their orders. Wednesday afternoon, nearly 7 months after the incident, the cops finally finished investigating themselves and they received their slaps on the wrist.
For nearly killing a surrendering man, beating him, yanking out his dreadlocks, needlessly tasering him as he complied with their commands, and turning off a body camera to cover it up, Deputy Alexander Edge and Deputy Jason Fineran will get two very short vacations.
As WFTS reports,
As a result of the investigation, Deputy Edge received a 15 day suspension without pay for using improper technique/police practices.
Deputy Fineran was suspended 5 days for turning off his microphone during the encounter.
The Sheriff made it clear the suspensions were not for striking Reed, but for violating other department policy.
The dash cam video starts with a police cruiser driving around 70 mph down the street, racing past surrounding cars at 11:30 p.m. on May 25. Fox 13 reported that deputies were responding to a call about a man with a gun in a residential neighborhood.
To be clear, Reed is the legal owner of two pistols. However, during this stop, they were not on his person. Also, it is clearly not against the law to be in possession of a legally owned gun.
When the police cruiser reaches a stop, 25-year-old Jimarez Reed can be seen crouching down by the side of a parked car. He looks shocked by both the bright headlights speeding down the dark street and by an officer who is already on the scene approaching him with a gun drawn. But even as Reed hides near the car, it is clear that both of his hands are raised, and he is not holding any weapons.
"Get on the ground!" one of the deputies yells, and Reed complies.
While the camera continues to capture the scene, one of the deputies mutes the audio, and it remains off for several minutes. As Reed lays flat on the ground with both hands out, a deputy jumps on top of him and punches him SEVEN times in the head.
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Reed’s attorney, Michele Rayner, told Fox 13 that she believes deputies used excessive force while attempting to arrest Reed. "You see the video, you see the officer, the first thing he does he jumps on him and just starts wailing on him," Rayner said.
“Don't kill me, please. Let me go, let me go, bro," Reed pleads, as the deputy responds by pulling Reed’s head up by his hair.
Another deputy joins in and punches Reed as he tries to force his hands behind his back. A bystander then enters the footage and appears to try to help police handcuff Reed. The first deputy responds by placing Reed into a chokehold. The officers continue to hit and choke Reed until two more officers pile onto his body, which had been face down on the ground the entire time.
WFLA reported that according to neighbors, the first deputy on the scene “chased Reed for some time” before the other deputies arrived and began recording the scene on dash cam.
Reed was ultimately charged with battery of an officer and resisting arrest with and without violence. After he was arrested, he required medical attention and needed stitches for the cuts on his face.
“They are roughing him up. They are pulling his hair. And he’s not resisting” Rayner told WFLA. “When I watched this, it was like air was sucked out of me. And I looked at my client, I said, I don’t even know how you are alive.”
Rayner also noted that if the officers believed Reed was armed, they do not appear to be following protocol. "They have standard operating procedures to deal with people who may be armed and I don't think that was their standard operating procedure," she said.
Once Reed was handcuffed, the dash cam footage shows five deputies searching for the gun he reportedly had in his possession. According to Fox 13, a gun was eventually recovered, but it was found in Reed’s locked car. However, the dash cam footage paints a different picture.
"You physically saw a gun?” one deputy asked.
“Yes, sir,” a deputy replied.
“He ain't got no gun," another deputy said.
While the information has not yet been released showing Jimarez Reed’s conduct leading up to the time when the Dash Cam began recording, the fact is that Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputies were using excessive force by repeatedly hitting and choking a man who was clearly surrendering, and they should be held accountable for their actions. Sadly, as their weak suspensions show, that will not happen.