Friday, May 4, 2007

Florida Deputy Suspended Over Rough Arrest

Woman Was Speeding on Way to Hospital

TAMPA, Fla. (May 3) - A sheriff's deputy was suspended for manhandling a sobbing woman who was speeding to a hospital to see her ailing father and didn't want to wait for him to write a ticket.

Deputy Kevin Stabins received a five-day suspension for using excessive force.

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After Deputy Kevin Stabins stopped Melissa Langston a second time in the hospital parking lot, video from his cruiser's dashboard shows him yanking her from her car and slamming her against it. "Please let me see my dad, " she cries as he handcuffs her. "If it was your dad ..." Stabins cuts her off, saying, "Now you're not going to see him, 'cause you're going to jail." Stabins, 29, was suspended for five days without pay for using excessive force. Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee signed off on the suspension Tuesday, and Stabins will begin serving it on May 22. Charges against Langston, 37, were dropped.

"I think (Stabins) understands that he was wrong and could have handled it better," Gee told The Tampa Tribune for Thursday's editions. "On both sides, really, it could have been done better." Stabins first stopped Langston after clocking her driving 63 mph in a 35-mph zone near University Community Hospital in November. The video shows her telling the deputy that her father had suffered a heart attack and had driven himself to the emergency room. Stabins returned to his car to write a ticket, but after several minutes, she drove into the hospital parking lot. After a short pursuit, she brakes, and he strides up to her, saying, "That was not smart." "I need to get there. I'm sorry but -- oh, my god!" she says.

As he tries to pull her out of the car, her foot slips off the brake and the car begins to roll forward. "Put it in park. Put it in park. Get out of the car. Hands behind your back. Now you're going to jail," Stabins says. He gets Langston out of the car, put her in an arm lock that left bruises, spun her around, and slammed her against her car's hood hard enough her feet leave the ground. Her father, William Johnston, stayed in the hospital six days, his wife, Mary Johnston, told the St. Petersburg Times for Thursday's editions. He went home with two stents in his arteries.

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