Saint Petersburg, FL

St. Petersburg Police Officer Fired From Force for Repeatedly Using Taser on a Wheelchair-Bound Man During Arrest

Toby Hazlewood

Officer used Taser 4 times during arrest

Another Florida police officer has been held to account for using excessive aggression on a suspect, after their actions were caught on another officer's body-cam.

This time, a St Petersburg officer, Matthew Cavinder has been found guilty of improperly using his Taser on a suspect during an arrest. He has been fired from the police force.

Timothy Grant, aged 64 was being arrested in relation to five open warrants. Mr Grant uses a wheelchair, but in the footage captured on a body-cam used by Officer Cavinder's partner, we see Grant struggling on the floor, apparently confused and asking repeatedly why he's being arrested.

The video has since been shared widely on Twitter.

With the suspect secured on the ground and offering minimal resistance, the video shows Cavinder using his Taser on Grant multiple times. While there were legitimate reasons for Grant's arrest, the use of force seems excessive given the situation and the resistance from the suspect.

Commenting on the incident, Chief Anthony Holloway of St Petersburg Police had this to say:

"Mr. Grant was not resisting with violence. This will not and cannot be tolerated here at St. Petersburg Police Department, and as long as I'm the chief here, it will not be tolerated."

Cameras keeping police honest

Officer Cavinder had filed a report that Mr Grant was resisting with violence, but that was clearly not the case from the body-cam footage that led to him being fired. It's the second time in recent weeks that a Florida police officer has been dismissed or demoted for aggressive conduct captured on camera.

A veteran police officer from Sunrise, FL has been demoted after body-cams caught him grabbing a female officer by the throat and pushing her backwards. She had intervened after he was being overly aggressive towards a suspect who was already handcuffed in the back of his car.

Cameras are everywhere

Video surveillance monitors us for much of our lives. A recent report suggested that Americans are caught on camera around 70 times every day, which is still a staggeringly high number.

There have been significant effects from introducing body-cams for police forces in the US. A study carried out by the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab reported drastic effects from introducing body cams within US police forces.

Complaints against police dropped by 17% and the use of force by police during fatal and non-fatal encounters fell by nearly 10%. There are numerous positive effects in the gathering of evidence of course, but that body cams seem to help keep police officers honest, also seems significant.

Do you feel that surveillance cameras keep everyone safe, or are they an invasion of our privacy? Let me know in the comments section below.

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