The Sarasota Police Department announced Friday the results of an "extensive" internal affairs investigation into whether officers used unnecessary excessive force during the March 22 arrest of Chad Washington, of Bradenton.
Police officers responded to the 1700 block of Gore Court in Sarasota to assist with a Sarasota County Emergency Services call after Darnesha McMillan, Washington's fiancée, called 911 to report that he was vomiting and foaming at the mouth. But according to police, Washington had an active felony warrant for failure to appear in court and tried to lock the officers out of the home.
Black Lives Matter Manasota previously released video from the scene of the arrest. The repeated sounds of a stun gun being activated as well as screams can be heard from onlookers as police attempt to subdue Washington, whom they described as "extremely uncooperative."
Washington, 35, was reportedly high on a synthetic street drug known as "spice" and did not respond to officers' commands. He reportedly tried to lock the officers out of the house and punched an officer in the face, punched another in the arm and bit one in the upper thigh after they got through.
McMillan's account of the incident is different, however. She previously told the Herald there was no way Washington could have opened the door because he was busy cleaning up the mess he had made.
“I know he didn’t open the door. He was trying to clean up his mess since he was coming to from whatever,” said McMillan.
Two officers then rushed Washington and began to punch, choke and kick him, according to McMillan, who added that police "tased him all the way out the door. They tased him for like 15 minutes nonstop."
Washington was left with bruises and a broken nose. He was charged with three counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and one count of possession of a controlled substance.
Following the altercation, a witness filed an excessive force complaint but later withdrew it. Police Chief Bernadette DiPino still chose to follow through with the investigation.
"I take all these types of complaints seriously. I hold our officers to the highest standard," DiPino said.
The report concluded that while the stun gun was activated 13 times, only one of the activations held proper conductivity. The other 12 had poor or no conductivity, police said.
After reviewing two videos submitted by onlookers and multiple interviews conducted by internal affairs, DiPino said she believes the officers involved acted appropriately.
McMillan disagrees and said police weren't even aware of the warrant when they responded to her home.
"He never hit an officer. Instead of them coming to help, they came to brutalize and use excessive force out of fear of him being a black male," she said.
Local activist groups have previously protested in response to the incident, which they call an instance of police brutality. One of those protests forced the Sarasota Police Department to cancel one of its Blue + You movie nights in downtown Sarasota.
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