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Controversy Arises Over Forceful Arrest of Tampa Teenager

The Tampa Bay Times recently reported that a video of a 15-year-old being forcefully arrested by a Tampa Bay Police Officer has gone viral on Youtube. The arrest occurred on North Franklin Street, near City Hall. The video raises serious questions about the conduct of the officer and treatment of the accused teenager. If you have been mistreated during an arrest or a detainment, please contact an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney who will aggressively protect your legal rights.

Unnecessary Use of Force?

The incident in question occurred on May 16th, when the unidentified 15-year-old and other teenagers were skateboarding in the business district of downtown Tampa Bay. A city ordinance prohibits skateboarding in that specific location. According to the reporting of the Tampa Bay Times, the responding officers claimed that they had previously warned that group of skateboarding teenagers to leave the area. In the video, one officer is shown grabbing the arm of the 15-year-old, and forcefully bringing him to the ground. According to the incident report filed by the arresting officer, he claims that he lost his balance and that contributed the high impact nature of the takedown. However, some are skeptical of that account and believe that the video shows and intentional and unnecessary use of force. Complaints from concerned citizens has led Tampa’s police chief to agree to review the incident. The 15-year-old was taken to a local juvenile detention facility and was charged with the resist of arrest without violence and the violation of a city ordinance.

Resist of Arrest Without Violence

In Florida, resisting arrest without violence is a misdemeanor offense. Florida law grants broad meaning to what qualifies as ‘resistance’ under this statute. Conduct that has been interpreted as meeting the definition of resistance includes:

  • Not standing up when asked by an officer;
  • Failing to place hands behind one’s back;
  • Intentionally concealing evidence;
  • Inciting violent actions by others; or
  • The general refusal to comply with an officer’s reasonable commands.

While the definition is broad, there are several defenses available for those accused of resisting arrest without violence. Beyond failing to provide adequate evidence of actual non-violent resistance, the prosecution may not convict a person of this crime if:

  • The ‘resistance’ was merely an involuntary physical reaction, such as one that occurs when a person is brought to the ground;
  • The officer did not indicate the the suspect was under arrest or being detained; or
  • The arrest or detention was illegal.

Need Legal Assistance?

If you have been charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest, or any other crime in Florida, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Pawlowski/Mastrilli Law Group will help. Our team will work aggressively to ensure that your legal rights are always fully protected. It is important to remember that any criminal charge, even a misdemeanor charge, can have serious consequences on the rest of your life. Our attorneys will do everything possible to protect you and find the best solution for your case. Please do not hesitate to contact our Tampa Bay office today at (813) 242-4404 to schedule a free review of your case.

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