An internal investigation has revealed that two Alachua County law enforcement agents were reprimanded after using an armored vehicle to pull a man over.
Alachua County Sheriff Sgt. Kevin Davis was suspended for a day without pay and Deputy Sheriff Richard Howell was dealt with internally.
On April 11, two the officers pulled over 24-year-old Gainesville resident Lucas Jewell while he was on his way home from his mother’s house, according to a report released by the sheriff’s office Friday. Jewell had one other passenger with him.
Jewell gave the middle finger to the officers who then cited him for an improper hand signal.
The officers were cited for lack of knowledge regarding the Florida State Statute 316.157, which outlines policies for using hand signals.
According to the report, Jewell stated that he had a first amendment right to flick off the officers.
The officers were driving the armored vehicle after helping the University of Florida with security at the Orange and Blue game. Jewell felt the use of an armored vehicle – a Lenco BearCat Armored Personnel Carrier – was unnecessary, according to the report.
The officers believed the other passenger in the car was performing an oral sex act on Jewell, which was part of the reason they initiated the stop, as stated in the report.
Jewell stated that Deputy Howell intentionally struck him and that Sgt. Davis violated his constitutional right to film the traffic stop after the Sgt. Davis told Jewell not to point the cell phone camera at him, according to the report.
In the report, it is confirmed that Jewell has a first amendment right to flick off an officer and it is not considered a violation.
Sheriff Sadie Darnell signed off on a one day suspension without pay to Sgt. Kevin Davis, the officer in charge at the time. Sgt. Davis was also ordered to use his knowledge to write a new policy for ASO regarding the proper use of armored vehicles.
Deputy Richard Howell was given a written reprimand. Howell was not found to have conducted himself unfavorably.
Jewell’s feelings toward the officers’ punishment are split.
“I have some positive thoughts and I have some negative thoughts,” he said, adding that he thinks their use of an armored vehicle was excessive.
He said he’s glad the department acknowledges they shouldn’t have used the armored vehicle to pull him over and that the officers are being reprimanded.
However, Jewell is not happy the report does not acknowledge the fact that the officers were infringing on his first amendment rights by telling him where he could and could not point his camera during the stop.
But Art Forgey from ASO said there are guns that can appear to look like cell phones and the officer’s commands stem from a safety concern.
A portion of the video can be seen here.