The camoflauge-wearing Florida cops who made international news last month when they used an armored car to pull a man over for flipping them off were disciplined, including one Alachua County Sheriff’s Sergeant who was suspended without pay for a day.
Perhaps now they will acknowledge that citizens do that have the right to flip them off, even though we all can agree it is a rude gesture.
Now the sergeant who initiated the traffic stop, Kevin Davis, will also have to write a new policy for the agency, which will outline the situations when the armored car, officially titled the Lenco Bearcat Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), will be allowed to make traffic stops. We hope he makes it clear that contempt-of-cop traffic stops are forbidden.
Sgt. Kevin Davis was issued one day of suspension without pay by Sheriff Sadie Darnell herself, and Deputy Richard Howell was given a written reprimand.
“Sgt. K. Davis is held accountable and responsible for the management of this incident overall,” the report stated “He demonstrated inadequate supervision of the incident and lack of knowledge of ordinances.”
The punishment related to what the internal affairs report found was an improper interpretation of state law governing motorists who use hand signals in lieu of electronic directionals on vehicles. The report found Jewell’s use of his middle finger to express his disapproval for the military-style vehicle was an expression of free speech and not a law violation.
Davis was ordered to use his knowledge of the incident to write policy for the agency.
Davis had claimed Lucas Jewell, a 24-year-old former city commission candidate, was using an improper hand signal when flipping them off. He also accused Jewell of receiving oral sex from the woman in his car as he flipped them off, even though Jewell said she was only resting her head on his lap.
While it might make sense to have an officer who knows the policies write the policy, but perhaps Davis will have assistance as he clearly believes he can make up his own policies on the go.
“It appears that due to this failure in judgment that there is a need for a policy/directive giving guidance as to when the APC may be used in a traffic stop,” ASO’s chief deputy, Col. David B. Huckstep, wrote in his recommendation. “Therefore, I request Sgt. Davis to use his experience to write a draft policy/directive as to when the APC may and may not be used for a traffic stop and forward this proposal through the chain of command for the Sheriff’s consideration.”
Davis is also the deputy in the video ordering Jewell not to point the camera at him because it could be a gun, making him fear for his life, but that is being blamed on his department that convinced him phones can be converted into guns.
Also on the video, Sgt. Davis repeatedly told Jewell not to point the cellphone toward him because it could be used as a firearm. ASO, the Gainesville Police Department and other agencies around the state regularly circulate bulletins on devices that look like cellphones but have been used as guns.
The only video we have seen where a cell phone can be used as a gun is this one that shows an outdated phone with the capability to shoot bullets. However, as you will see in the video, one would have to point the top of the phone towards the target, which is exactly what you don’t do when recording a subject.
That video has been making the rounds since 2001 and we haven’t seen any other phones turned into guns, so if police are indeed passing this information along to their officers, we hope they have more substantial facts than this video.
Just this month, President Obama announced that he would be scaling back the amount of military gear used by police departments, which has caused an uproar on many police forums, who are now accusing the president of setting them up to be killed.
Last week, another Florida sheriff from Manatee County sent in a militarized unit of cops, complete with armored car and helicopter, to confront a homeless man who had taken shelter inside a church with a bag of food.
It doesn’t appear at this time that the homeless man had a cell phone to further scare the responding deputies.