TAMPA, Fla. — Newly-released body camera video from the Tampa Police Department appears to show an officer berating and swearing at residents. The officer was reprimanded for his behavior, but some believe his punishment doesn't go far enough.
The incident happened in Ybor Heights on June 23, 2022. The Tampa Police Department said the officer violated its standards of conduct and rules on how its officers should interact with citizens.
Spectrum News obtained a copy of the body camera footage from our news partners at the Tampa Bay Times. The video starts with an officer getting out of a car and chasing a suspect. The officer cuts off the suspect, which knocked them to the ground. That officer was identified by our partners at the Times as Dukagjin Maxhuni, a 10-year veteran of the department.
Maxhuni is later heard bragging about hitting the suspect, with what he called a "flying knee." The officer then follows a crowd of bystanders and is heard swearing and yelling at them.
Yvette Lewis, the president of the Hillsborough County NAACP, first saw the video on Tuesday. She said she's angry and disappointed in the police department.
"We shouldn’t have to live this way," Lewis said. "We deserve to be treated with respect no matter how much money you have or less money, or the color of your skin."
Lewis said she and Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw have discussed the video, which she said was a productive conversation. But Lewis said these types of incidents have become too common – and she's calling for change, an apology from the officer involved and his firing.
"What it is showing is what we have been saying this whole time in the African-American community – that the Tampa Police Department treats the community with a lack of respect," Lewis said.
According to Tampa Police, the officer was disciplined and removed from his squad and the neighborhood he served. While this incident happened before Chief Bercaw was appointed to his position, he said this type of behavior won't be tolerated in his department.
Bercaw sent Spectrum Bay News 9 the following statement:
“The officers’ actions and statements were unacceptable and failed to treat the community with the dignity and respect that is the standard of the Tampa Police Department. We have a system in place to flag behavior not consistent with our code of conduct. In this situation, it worked. An internal audit identified the behavior, and an investigation was immediately launched back in 2022. The officer was disciplined and removed from his squad and the neighborhood he served. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. The Tampa Police Department will continue to hold all officers to the highest possible standard as it’s what our community expects and deserves.”