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Caretaker caught on video hitting disabled resident with frying pan, Florida cops say

Caretaker caught on video hitting group home resident with frying pan, Florida cops say

Pinellas Park, Florida, police said a group home operator watching surveillance video saw a caretaker attacking mentally disabled residents. She faces two counts of abuse, jail records said.
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Pinellas Park, Florida, police said a group home operator watching surveillance video saw a caretaker attacking mentally disabled residents. She faces two counts of abuse, jail records said.

A Florida group home caretaker was arrested after police said she attacked a disabled resident with a frying pan, not realizing a surveillance camera was catching it.

Darnika Martin, 29, was booked at the Pinellas County Jail on April 20 on two counts of felony abuse of a disabled person, according to online jail records. An arrest report said Martin hit two residents of a group home in Pinellas Park — one with a pan, another with her hand. The establishment’s owner discovered the abuse when he looked at his surveillance camera footage, WFLA reports.

“He called authorities and said ‘Hey, I was reviewing my stuff, I looked at it and I saw one of my staff members hitting one of the patients,’” said Capt. Adam Geissenberger, according to WFLA.

The home serves the mentally and physically disabled, and Martin was aware the two residents she’s accused of attacking were disabled, the arrest report said.

The victim hit with the frying pan has an autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities, according to police. Video from that incident shows the caretaker holding a frying pan in one hand and running at the victim, using her free hand to slap him as he stood in the kitchen.

The victim used his hand to shield his head but was hit in the hand with the pan, video shows.

“You can clearly see in the video that this man was trying to get something out of a bag, which we learned was food,” Geissenberger said in an interview with WFLA. “I don’t know what the dialogue was between them, but for her to pick up a frying pan and strike him repeatedly about the head, arms and hands — there’s no place for that anywhere.”

During the second incident, Martin was caught on video pushing a victim who also has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the arrest report. Police said the footage of that attack shows Martin yelling at the resident, telling him to go to the bathroom, slapping him and hitting him in the back.

Martin, a resident of nearby St. Petersburg, has been released on $10,000 bond, online jail records said.

“The level of disability that both of these adults have lead us to be the ones to bring charges against her,” Geissenberger said, according to WFLA.

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