LAKELAND, Fla. — Four officers are being placed on paid administrative leave, and the Lakeland Police Department has brought in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate allegations of police brutality.
Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor said a video of police officers punching and tasing a man on Dec. 18 of last year is what led him to request the FDLE to conduct an independent use of force investigation.
Antwan Glover, the man in that video, said he also wants the officers charged.
“They were so quick to bring us up on charges,” Glover said. “Why can’t they be brought up on charges as well?”
In a statement, Chief Taylor said he met with the FDLE on Wednesday, “and requested they initiate a use of force investigation.”
“While the FDLE investigation is underway, Sergeant Mark Eby, Detective Dillon Cornn, and officers Anton Jefferson and Jason McCain will be placed on paid administrative leave,” the statement reads.
“It’s better late than never,” said Pastor Clayton Cowart, “And I’m glad he finally decided to do that. It’s a few months and a few times after, but we’re making progress.”
Community activists like Pastor Cowart, founder of the Poor Minority Justice Association, have been asking Lakeland PD to take those same officers off the streets for months after at least six people have come forward with similar police brutality allegations.
They consider moving the officers from modified duty to paid administrative leave and reaching out to the FDLE is a step in the right direction.
“I think the FDLE, the community says OK, here’s somebody who’s going to at least have a different level of transparency,” said Cowart.
Chief Taylor said while on unpaid administrative leave, the officers will be required to be available to their supervisors and investigators.
The officers are not authorized to work extra duty details or exercise police authority. The chief said he recognizes the community has questions — and appreciates the FDLE‘s willingness to take on the investigation.
Community activists say in addition to the FDLE, they‘d like to see the Department of Justice examine the cases and ultimately they want the officers fired and possibly charged.