Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Investigation Exonerates Deputies

A Collier County Sheriff’s Office investigation into an allegation that deputies used excessive force when they took a man into custody after a high-speed vehicle pursuit in 2009 has exonerated the deputies.

“The internal investigation clearly demonstrated that the deputies acted within the law and agency policy,” Sheriff Kevin J. Rambosk said at a news conference Wednesday at which he announced the findings of the investigation.

The investigation began in February 2010 after the Sheriff’s Office received information that the Lee County branch of the NAACP planned to file a complaint alleging excessive force in the June 15, 2009, arrest of Coroy Flournoy.

Flournoy, a passenger in a vehicle, was arrested at the termination of the pursuit. During the pursuit the driver of the vehicle, Kevin Palmer, struck a Florida Highway Patrol trooper’s patrol car, causing it to crash.

Flournoy, 26, was charged with resisting arrest without violence in connection with the incident.

“The incident involving Mr. Palmer and Mr. Flournoy was dangerous and violent to the community,” Sheriff Rambosk said Wednesday. “This occurrence was initiated and perpetuated by Mr. Palmer and Mr. Flournoy.”

Arrest reports say the Nissan Altima was traveling south on State Road 29 at about 25 miles above the posted 55 mph speed limit. Palmer refused to pull over and led deputies onto Interstate 75, where he reached speeds in excess of 110 mph. At one point the Altima hit a marked FHP vehicle, causing it to crash, reports said. Deputies were able to force the car to stop at the 114 mile marker of I-75.

Reports say Flournoy refused deputies’ commands to get out of the vehicle and that he clenched his fists and failed to comply with deputies’ demands that he place his hands behind his back when the alleged excessive force took place.

The investigation, conducted by CCSO’s Professional Responsibility Bureau, determined that Flournoy resisted being handcuffed and that deputies on scene followed agency and state response to resistance guidelines while taking Flournoy into custody.

Video from patrol cars on scene corroborates the deputies’ version of events. “To a trained observer these strikes are obviously intended as a distraction technique to facilitate the handcuffing, not to inflict pain.”

Law enforcement officers are permitted to respond to resistance, whether it is verbal, passive, active or aggressive, for the safety of the public, the officer and the subject.

“Most often law enforcement officers don’t know who they are stopping,” Sheriff Rambosk said. “We have established appropriate procedures and training to keep the community, subjects and our deputies as safe as possible under the existing conditions present.”

Click here to read the investigation findings.

Click here to watch dashboard camera footage of the arrest and the CCSO press conference announcing the investigation results.