A Florida police officer tosses peanuts at a homeless man and reportedly talks to him like a dog in a silent booking video from the Sarasota County jail released on Monday.
The officer, Andrew Halpin, also points and laughs with several sheriff’s deputies as the handcuffed man with one foot shoeless and the other in a boot then eats the nuts off the floor, according to the footage exposed through a public records request by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Halpin had been giving the man, Randy Miller, a series of “dog commands,” a person familiar with the incident told the newspaper.
At one point, Halpin kicks one of the peanuts at Miller as he writhes on the ground for the snack. The sheriff’s deputies don’t intervene in any way, and one of them appears to hand Halpin more peanuts to throw toward Miller early in the nearly three-minute video from July 18.
Police had arrested Miller, 44, for trespassing and failure to leave a property upon order by owner in the city on the southwestern coast of Florida around 37 miles south of Tampa Bay, county records show.
Miller, who officers believed was drunk at the time, has been arrested 22 times over the past two years in Sarasota County on suspicion of crimes like trespassing, refusing to leave, and drinking in public.
But officials at the Sarasota Police Department and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office will be investigating the officers who appear in the video rather than Miller, according to the Herald-Tribune.
The officials weren’t previously aware of the incident before the newspaper brought it to their attention. But the sheriff’s office’s internal affairs division is looking into the deputies’ involvement, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office said.
And Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino suspended Halpin, who has been a Sarasota officer since 2006, after watching the video Monday morning, according to the Herald-Tribune.
“Based on the actions in the video, I immediately initiated an internal investigation on Officer Halpin,” DiPino said. “I’m disappointed in what I observed in the video, and placed the officer on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.”
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