Tampa cop loses job after dragging woman to jail

TAMPA — The Tampa Police Department fired an officer Tuesday after he was recorded dragging a handcuffed woman across the grounds toward the registration room at the Hillsborough County Jail.

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

It happened that morning after he and other officials were called to the Tampa Family Health Center at 4620 N 22nd St. in the Belmont Heights area. Those in the medical office reported a woman sleeping outside the building and refused their request to leave the property.

Police said the woman had previously been told to stay away from the property. She was arrested for trespassing.

When Damon arrived with her at Eastern Road Jail, the woman refused to get out of the back seat of his patrol SUV, police said.

Body camera video released by police on Tuesday captured his interaction with the woman.

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

“I want you to drag me,” she said.

The video shows the officer grabbing her by the arm, pulling her out of the car, and leading her across the long concrete floor to a sign reading “Search your arrestees” at the door of the central reservation room. The woman speaks provocatively and insults the officer throughout.

As he dragged her, the officer stopped and told the woman to stand up. She remains on the ground, uttering insults.

Damon continued to drag her towards the door. He pressed the call button and summoned two Hillsborough County Jail representatives outside to help usher the woman into the room.

Tampa police did not name the woman in a news release about the incident. But jail records show she is 46 years old. The address she listed was for a facility in Tampa that serves the homeless. She was taken to jail at 10.19am that day for trespassing. Pre-orders showed she was sent to a mental hospital a few days later. A criminal case against her is still pending.

The incident was reported to the Tampa Police Department by the superintendent of the jail, run by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The next day, the Professional Standards Bureau opened an investigation. Damon was relieved of his duties while the investigation was ongoing.

The department’s policy on handling uncooperative detainees in prisons states that officers should seek assistance from prison registrars. Prison representatives can help officers lift the person into a restraint chair and wheel them into the jail.

Police said they adjusted their policy after a similar incident in 2013, adding that it was inappropriate to drag someone who was not cooperating.

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In a news release, police noted that the woman used vulgar and obscene language towards the officer, but Damon also made rude and derogatory remarks towards her. His policy violations included provisions on public courtesy.

Investigators reviewed the officer’s body camera footage and prison surveillance footage and interviewed Damon and found no clear reason for the policy violation.

The investigation concluded on Tuesday with the decision to fire Damon. He has been a patrol officer since 2016.