Sarasota police under fire for alleged brutality

- Three cases in three months. Activists in Sarasota say violent arrests and brutality at the hands of local police officers need to stop.

Wednesday, concerned citizens and victims' family members gathered to rally for justice. The group is also putting pressure on the state attorney to review recent incidents, sending him a letter demanding action.

“We will not stop, we will have justice in the city," one woman said. “The Sarasota Police Department will not continue to run the streets.”

They’re protesting three arrests that have happened over the last few months, claiming police brutality and excessive force.

Cellphone video captured officers taking Chad Washington into custody on March 22. Critics of the officers' actions say they beat the 35-year-old and used a Taser on him repeatedly.

According to officials, Washington was high on spice and attacked multiple officers. 

After reviewing the case, the police chief cleared the police involved.

“I can tell you that our officers acted appropriately in this case,” Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said.

On April 10, officers on patrol approached an SUV parked at Janie’s Garden Apartments. 

Investigators say Jeremy Trebbles was behind the wheel and suddenly accelerated towards the police, running over one of their feet. 

Officers opened fire hitting the 18-year-old and a minor passenger with bullets.

Trebbles was arrested and charged, but his family maintains he was the victim.

“I never knew it was against the law to be sitting in a vehicle not bothering anyone,” Trebbles’ aunt, Stephanie Pinkney said. “We’re asking for him to be released and all his charges dropped.”

One officer was suspended for a week after the shooting, and the incident is currently under investigation by internal affairs.

The third allegation of a violent arrest happened on May 27 on Brink Avenue. 

According to arrest paperwork, four relatives were attacking police and each other. Activists claim the officers beat, kicked, and Tased the family members.

“We want the state attorney to take a second look at these cases, to really take into consideration everything that happened, instead of taking just the word of the police officers,” said Ruth Beltran with ANSWER Suncoast.

Both Washington and Trebbles remain behind bars.

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