CLEARWATER, Fla. - A Clearwater police officer was arrested after officials said he stopped a pedestrian and told her he wouldn't cite her for jaywalking or charge her for sexual misconduct in exchange for sexual acts with him.
Nicolas Paloma, 29, an officer with the Clearwater Police Department since 2018, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with sexual battery and false imprisonment, according to Police Chief Eric Gandy.
Photo courtesy: Clearwater Police Department
"I had to check myself before coming in here, because I'm exceptionally upset at the betrayal of trust in the level of confidence that people have in our officers," Chief Gandy said at a press conference Tuesday. "It's exceptionally damaging to our reputation and the reputation of everyone in law enforcement."
Chief Gandy said early Sunday morning, Paloma conducted a pedestrian stop on a 32-year-old woman near the Clearwater Beach roundabout. Investigators said she was visiting Clearwater Beach and is not from the area.
Paloma then told her to get in his car and said he could take her to her hotel, and she could take care of the charges by "doing things for him," according to Chief Gandy.
Paloma then took the victim around various locations on Clearwater Beach for about 30 minutes and engaged in sexual acts with her before dropping her off near her hotel.
Chief Gandy added that Paloma made efforts to hide his location from police. Authorities were made aware of the incident after they responded to a dispute between the victim and a friend, and she divulged shortly thereafter the incident involving Paloma.
"It's intolerable in this profession and certainly in the Clearwater Police Department," Chief Gandy said.
He added that Clearwater police are actively investigating and asking anyone with information on this case or other cases to contact them at 727-562-4385. CPD has also reached out to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in the event that any other cases involving Officer Paloma come to light.
"We have to proceed in the abundance of caution," Chief Gandy said. "This is a guy who under the cover of law took this action, and we have to be very careful to ensure that we don't have somebody else out there. We just don't know at this juncture."
Paloma has been placed on administrative leave. He has no previous disciplinary history, according to police.