Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg police officer used too much force during jail booking, chief says

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was suspended for four days Wednesday for dragging a drunken woman across the floor after she refused to cooperate while being booked into jail.

Police Chief Chuck Harmon said Officer Christopher Goodwin, 47, used an excessive amount of force during his interactions with 49-year-old Debra Leibrock, who was arrested April 13 for trespassing and disorderly intoxication.

Leibrock suffered minor injuries and complained to the mayor's office.

According to internal affairs investigators, Goodwin responded that morning to Trinity Lutheran Church, 401 Fifth St. N, where volunteers were serving breakfast to the homeless.

People there called police after Leibrock, who was intoxicated, started causing trouble.

Goodwin pulled up and ordered Leibrock to leave. She started to walk away, then turned back and smashed a bottle in the middle of the road.

Goodwin tried to handcuff her, police said, but Leibrock began to flail around and then went limp. The officer took her to the ground and half-dragged her by the shirt collar to his cruiser.

He called paramedics to examine a gash on her face.

Once inside the police car, Goodwin said, Leibrock became docile. She chatted with him and complained her head hurt. The officer promised a nurse would examine the wound.

But when they got to the jail, Leibrock became uncooperative again, Goodwin said. Leibrock plopped on the pavement and refused to move. A video from the jail shows her trying to evade the officer's grasp.

Goodwin notified jail deputies of Leibrock's status. But before anyone came to help, he again grabbed the woman by her collar and dragged her inside the jail.

An intake deputy at the jail told internal investigators Leibrock "was not providing any physical resistance to the officer other than sitting down on the ground," according to documents released by police.

"Deputy Hall was 'shocked' by the officer's actions and stated he had other options available to him for assistance," the documents said.

Yet people who were at the church that day, including G.W. Rolle, an advocate for the homeless, said they didn't see anything wrong with Goodwin's conduct. They said the officer was professional and wanted to thank him for taking care of the problem.

Leibrock has a criminal record that dates back to 1997. Her most recent arrest was a week ago for disorderly intoxication.

Goodwin, who has been on the force since 1991, told investigators he knows he could have done things differently and that it was inappropriate to drag Leibrock into the jail.

Harmon said Goodwin's actions violated a general order against unbecoming conduct.

"He handled the entire incident appropriately, except for his actions in the sally port area of the Pinellas County Jail," Harmon wrote in a memo. "He was remorseful for his actions and any embarrassment it may have brought to the agency."

In addition to Goodwin's case, department officials also reviewed two fatal shootings. Officers in both cases were ruled justified in their use of force in the deaths of Arthur Allen Dixon Jr. on March 10 and Pamela Dale Kirk on April 28.

Dixon rushed at two officers with a pair of scissors after a failed negotiation attempt, officers said. Authorities said Kirk, who suffered from mental health issues, pointed a gun at an officer as he tried to speak to her through a window.

Prosecutors cleared the three officers of any criminal wrongdoing earlier this year.

St. Petersburg police officer used too much force during jail booking, chief says 07/25/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 25, 2013 11:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments

    Editorials

    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.
  2. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  3. Money is the issue as Hillsborough strains to fix school air conditioners

    K12

    TAMPA — With more than 200 repair requests tumbling in every day, school officials in Hillsborough County are broadening their circle of air conditioning mechanics as they struggle to control a debilitating cycle of breakdowns and sweltering classrooms.

    Hillsborough school officials want to expand the number of contractors who work on broken school air conditioning systems. But it all gets rolled into a workload that has increased by 40 percent since 2011. "With no increase in budget, no increase in equipment and no increase in manpower, and as the equipment gets older and needs more maintenance, this is going to continue to grow," said Robert Weggman, general manager of maintenance." [iStockphoto.com
]
  4. At Bayonet Point Middle School, solar eclipse becomes a lesson

    K12

    NEW PORT RICHEY — At 2:30 Monday afternoon, students and faculty members streamed out of their classrooms and onto the athletic fields at Bayonet Point Middle School. The attraction: the solar eclipse.

    Isiah Echevarria, 10, left, and Andy Shaw, 11, right, take in the solar eclipse during a schoolwide viewing Monday afternoon at Bayonet Point Middle School in New Port Richey. "It's pretty cool," said Andy, 11. "This is actually my first eclipse. The next eclipse won't be for at least 30 years."
  5. Estimated 5,000 people marvel at MOSI over solar eclipse

    Human Interest

    Packing pinhole cereal box viewers, cardboard glasses and curiosity, solar gawkers gathered outside Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry on Monday for a show that required no ticket.

    At center, Sophia Butter, 8, and Kristina Butera, both of Valrico, watch the sun through eclipse viewing glasses during a solar eclipse party Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. MOSI will reopen after renovations on November 18. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]