Officers' Behavior Investigated | Video Shows Sarasota Policeman Tossing Peanuts at a Handcuffed, Drunken Man

By Williams, Lee | Sarasota Herald Tribune, July 28, 2015 | Go to article overview

Officers' Behavior Investigated | Video Shows Sarasota Policeman Tossing Peanuts at a Handcuffed, Drunken Man


Williams, Lee, Sarasota Herald Tribune


LAW ENFORCEMENT

SARASOTA -- As he was being booked into the Sarasota County jail, an officer tossed peanuts into Randy Miller's mouth as if feeding a dog or an animal at the zoo.

Miller, intoxicated and handcuffed, was unable to catch them with his mouth. Several fell to the ground.

Minutes later, Miller slumped out of his chair and began eating the peanuts off the booking room floor. Sarasota Police Officer Andrew Halpin, who had thrown the nuts at Miller's mouth, kicked them with his boot toward Miller so he could better reach them on the floor.

A source familiar with Miller's July 18 arrest says Halpin was giving the homeless man "dog commands" during the incident.

The Herald-Tribune obtained a copy of the booking video

Monday through a public records request, after learning of what happened to Miller.

Neither the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office nor the Sarasota Police Department were aware of Halpin's actions until contacted by the newspaper on Monday.

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino watched the booking video Monday morning, and suspended her officer immediately.

"Based on the actions in the video, I immediately initiated an internal investigation on Officer Halpin," DiPino said. "I'm disappointed in what I observed in the video, and placed the officer on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation."

DiPino declined to address the officer's work history.

"I can't discuss anything further," she said, adding she would comment only after the internal affairs investigation.

In the video, several sheriff's deputies and a Venice Police officer can be seen watching Halpin's interaction with Miller, but taking no action to stop it. …

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