St. Pete cop fired for excessive use of force

St. Petersburg, Florida -- For six months, a St. Petersburg police officer under investigation for excessive use of force was left to patrol the city streets.

He was finally fired on Thursday, after a lengthy internal investigation.

10 News tracked down the violent video that cost this cop his job. The video takes place in the North Shore Pool parking lot in downtown St. Petersburg back in January of this year.

Then-officer Kenneth Pienik was called out for a DUI suspect. When he spoke to the man, things got violent.

The video you can see on this page is one he tried to make "disappear." You can see former St. Pete police officer Kenneth Pienik walk into frame, his face blurred.

The man he's talking to is 46-year-old Stephen Woodworth, who police say they found slumped over the wheel in the North Shore Pool parking lot.

"Mr. Woodworth says he doesn't want to answer, doesn't want to give him information, asks who (Pienik's) supervisor is and that's when officer Pienik throws his clipboard down," said St. Petersburg Police spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez.

When Pienik tries to cuff Woodworth, he ends up grabbing the man, throwing him to the ground hard, and then jumping on top of him.

After the incident when Pienik was supposed to submit that video into evidence, "the officer did not do this," Fernandez said.

Pienik tried to hide the video, saying it would "disappear." That was a red flag for the Pinellas County State Attorney's office that asked Pienik for the video.

"He said it would not help (the) case," Fernandez said. The State Attorney's office put in a formal request to see the missing video, which alerted Pienik's supervisor to the problem.

READ: Report announcing Officer Pienik's termination (PDF)

I tried contacting the Pinellas County State Attorney about the investigation, but they did not want to comment about procedure.

In all, Pienik was cited for nine different departmental and city violations. Interim police chief David DeKay said in a release: "There were other options and resources available at the timeā€¦ without the level of force that was used by Officer Pienik."

"He used bad judgment during the incident, then he used bad judgment afterwards in dealing with the video tape," Fernandez said.

Kenneth Pienik had spent six and a half years on the St. Petersburg police force.


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