ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - A Hillsborough County firefighter and military veteran is suing the St. Petersburg Police Department after, he claims, an officer assaulted him.
May 7 was a rough night at Del Mar Gastro Lounge. Police were called to investigate a fight that left a University of Florida student with a fractured skull.
But as surveillance and cell phone video shows, the drama did not end there. Things got a lot worse when a case of mistaken identity led police to Hillsborough County firefighter and military veteran Clint Walker.
Someone in the bar mistook Walker for the man involved in the fight. As St. Petersburg police officer Ruben DeJesus tried to question him, things escalated quickly. Walker was tased three or four times before being arrested on charges of assaulting an officer.
Attorney Jerry Theophilopoulos, however, said Walker was the one who was assaulted that night.
Cell phone video taken inside the bar shows Walker, with his hands behind his back, just seconds before officer DeJesus, a 31-year vet of the St. Petersburg police, fires his taser.
"The video is clear as to who committed a battery on who, and it was officer DeJesus assaulting and battering my client, who was innocent of doing anything that evening," said Theophilopoulos.
Walker and his attorney said the videos show no sign of Walker resisting arrest, and Walker insists he was cooperative with officers.
St. Petersburg police say otherwise.
"One thing we know for sure is, from the very beginning, Mr. Walker did not cooperate with the officer. From the minute the officer walked into the bar and was told that Mr. Walker was the one, which we know now was wrong information, and he approached him, Mr. Walker did not cooperate. It escalated from there," said St. Petersburg police spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez. "Whether the officer's actions were right or wrong from there, that will be something for the Office of Professional Standards."
Walker is now suing the St. Petersburg Police Department.
"He's asked to roll over after they've tased the hell out of him. He rolls over and officer DeJesus found it upon himself to kick my client in the groin while he's on his belly, and that's clear as day in the video," said Theophilopoulos.
With Walker subdued on the ground, his friend and fellow firefighter, Robert Ramirez, was then arrested for obstructing police. Surveillance video shows officer DeJesus grab Ramirez's face while he's handcuffed.
"There are serious questions as to whether he should be in law enforcement, with that type of behavior in public," said Theophilopoulos. "We want officer DeJesus to be prosecuted because, had my client done this to officer DeJesus, he'd be in big trouble. Thank God we have the bar video, and thank God for civilians pulling out their cell phone, because otherwise, this would be an officer's word versus my client's word."
St. Petersburg police turned the videos over to the Office of Professional Standards for a formal investigation into whether officer Dejesus' conduct was acceptable.
Walker was placed on administrative leave from the Hillsborough County Fire Department following the incident. He hopes charges against him will be dropped so he can get back to work.