TAMPA — A Hillsborough County sheriff was fired and arrested two years ago — later charged with clearing himself of criminal wrongdoing after threatening a man during his arrest.
Now, the case is back in court.
A lawsuit filed earlier this month revived the charges against the former sergeant. Janak Amin. He was fired in July 2020 after Hillsborough Sheriff’s officials said he held a gun to a man’s head while arresting him and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t give his name kill him.
Amin was arrested on aggravated battery charges, Sheriff Chad Chronister announced at a news conference a day after the incident. But then-state’s Attorney Andrew Warren declined to pursue the case, writing in a letter to the sheriff that the evidence showed Amin was acting within his legal bounds as a law enforcement officer and there was insufficient evidence of a crime .
A legal settlement was passed two years later, and Carl Elkins said he wanted Amin to compensate him.
Elkins was the subject of an arrest. He filed the suit in Hillsborough Circuit Court alleging battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“You can’t force people to cooperate with your investigation at gunpoint or threaten them with grievous bodily harm,” said Elkins’ attorney, Michael Maddux. “Nobody deserves that.” . That’s why Chronister Sheriff was right to execute him.”
But Amin’s attorney, Paul Sisco, previously gave a mixed account of what happened the morning of Elkins’ arrest.
“Sgt. Armin’s actions were only in line with his (Sheriff’s Office) 20 years of training,” Sisko said. “The State Attorney’s Office unequivocally agreed and stated in a letter that there was absolutely no crime committed by Sgt. Armin.”
Elkins, he said, “is looking for a payday for an injury that didn’t exist and never happened.”
The arrest took place in the early morning of July 9, 2020. Elkins was wrongly released a day earlier after being sentenced to a year in prison for drug-related convictions. Amin’s team is ordered to find him. They found him around 4 a.m. near N Nebraska Avenue and E Annie Street in Tampa. Elkins took refuge in an open field as the team began arresting him.
Amin knelt nearby with his gun drawn as three deputies stopped Elkins, pinning him to the ground.
Three deputies who were present that night claimed they heard Amin point a gun to Elkins’ forehead and threaten to shoot him if he did not say his name. But at least seven other deputies said they never saw or heard the sergeant do anything wrong, according to Sisco’s summary of the case.
According to Warren’s letter to the sheriff, Elkins, who was not yet in handcuffs and was struggling to resist deputies’ efforts to restrain him, issued a threat to shoot.
Amin said he would “sprinkle Mr. Elkins’ brains on the concrete,” the lawsuit says. But those exact words were not included in the official report of events.
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Delegates recalled phrases like “stop resisting,” “show me your hands,” and “tell me your fucking name.”
As Elkins walked out of the parking lot, the three deputies who claimed the shooting threat said they heard Armin tell him he could be “taken into the woods” if he didn’t tell them his name. In a letter to the sheriff, Warren wrote that the comment, while inappropriate, did not constitute a crime. The letter referred to a statement issued by Elkins in which he said he did not believe it was a serious threat.
Amin is now retired, his lawyer said.
Chronister later defended the decision to fire the sergeant, saying he violated the agency’s standard operating procedure.
Public documents provided by Amin’s attorney show that the sheriff’s office negotiated a $15,000 legal settlement with Elkins.
Elkins’ lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Amin.