A Sarasota, Florida, police officer faces an investigation and has been placed on administrative leave after being caught on video tossing food in to a handcuffed suspect’s mouth.
Andrew Halpin arrested Randy Miller July 18 for a trespassing offense. The homeless man has been arrested 22 times for trespassing, Daily Mail reported.
According to the arrest report, Halpin noticed Miller near the doorway of a business and detained him, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported. The store clerk who called the police reportedly said that Miller was extremely intoxicated and refused to leave the premises.
The CCTV video was captured at the county jail. After Miller failed to catch the peanuts in his mouth, he reportedly slumped to the floor and was encouraged by Halpin to eat from the ground. Halpin kicked the nuts towards Miller with his boot.
An anonymous source stated that Halpin was also giving Miller dog commands.
The police department was unaware of Halpin’s actions. But after the Herald Tribune contacted them with the video, Police Chief Bernadette DiPino immediately took action.
“Based on the actions in the video, I immediately initiated an internal investigation on Officer Halpin,” said DiPino. “I’m disappointed in what I observed in the video and placed the officer on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The video did not only implicate Halpin, but also other deputies in the background who failed to do anything to stop Halpin.
“It’s this kind of egregious conduct that gets Sarasota labeled as the meanest city in the U.S. towards the homeless,” said Michael Barfield of the Florida branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Florida law allows for enhanced penalties when crimes are committed that show prejudice against the homeless.
"Instead of wrist-slapping officers, Chief DiPino and the State Attorney’s Office need to send a message that this conduct won’t be tolerated.”
Another investigation has been launched into the actions of the other deputies seen in the video.
According to the Herald Tribune, Miller remains in custody because he has been unable to put up bail.
Photo credit: Daily Mail, Herald Tribune Video Screenshot