A Florida police officer was suspended after a newspaper revealed video showing him feed an intoxicated inmate like a zoo animal — apparently while speaking to the homeless man like a dog.
Officer Andrew Halpin, of Sarasota police, is shown tossing peanuts into inmate Randy Miller’s mouth as he sits handcuffed in a chair, reported the Herald-Tribune.
The intoxicated man is unable to catch the peanuts with his mouth, and he slumps out of his chair and eats the nuts with great difficulty from the booking room floor while the officer watches and then kicks them toward the homeless man so he can better reach them.
The video does not contain audio, but a source told the newspaper that Halpin gave “dog commands” to Miller during the July 18 incident.
The newspaper obtained a copy of the booking video Monday through an open records request, and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the Sarasota Police Department both said they were unaware of the officer’s actions until a reporter contacted them about the incident.
Chief Bernadette DiPino, of Sarasota police, immediately suspended Halpin after watching the video.
Halpin was placed on administrative leave while the department conducts and internal investigation of his actions during the arrest.
The video shows several sheriff’s deputies and a Venice police officer standing by and watching Halpin taunt the inmate but taking no action to stop him.
The deputies seen in the video are now also the targets of internal affairs investigations, the newspaper reported.
A police report from Miller’s arrest shows Halpin spotted the homeless man sitting outside the front door of a Sarasota business where he had previously been charged with trespassing.
Miller, who has been arrested 22 times for various petty crimes since September, remains jailed because he is unable to make bail.
Watch video of the incident posted online by the Herald-Tribune: