SARASOTA, Fla. — The conclusion of internal review clearing officers of any wrongdoing in a rough arrest that was captured on cell phone video has prompted calls for an independent investigation of the matter.
Sarasota police said 35-year-old Chad Washington punched officers and was high on drugs when they arrived to find him on March 22. Washington's family disputes claims he was on drugs.
Officers responded to what was originally a medical call after Washington's fiance called 911.
While there's plenty of debate over what lead up to when the video showing Washington's arrest started being recorded, what is clear is the chaos that followed as several officers can be seen surrounding Washington, kicking and tasing him while on the ground.
Investigators officers discharged their tasers on Washington 13 times, but only one activation connected.
A police internal investigation sided with the officers, staying no extensive force was used and that the officers acted appropriately because they were "attacked."
"Everyone has a bias, but we train police officers to recognize bias to make sure no one is discriminated against anywhere," Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said on Friday following the release of the investigation's findings.
That conclusion led about a dozen people to pack public comment at the Sarasota City Commission meeting on Monday to get their concerns on public record, including Darnesha McMillan, Washington's fiance.
She and others are demanding:
- The charges against Washington be dropped
- the officers involved be fired
- An independent investigation be launched.
"Chad was not armed, he did not pose a threat," she said. "I even stated to the officers, you need any weapons because he's not armed."
McMillan says she was still confused why officers even showed up, given the call was to EMS. She and other speakers said this incident is the latest example of the ongoing racial tension between police and the black community.
City Manager Tom Barwin said the city is reviewing whether officers should respond to certain medical calls.
"In cases like this, I think it's important we all listen to the different informational materials, so we can as close as we can come to it, come together to identify the legitimate problems and figure out how to solve them," he said.
For transparency, Barwin says they’ve posted the entire 911 call from that day, along with cell phone video and the entire discussion from the internal affairs review panel to the city website.
►Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10 News app now.