Sarasota officer caught on camera tossing peanuts at inmate

A video from the Sarasota County Jail booking room has sparked an internal affairs investigation at the Sarasota Police Department.

In the surveillance video you can see Officer Andrew Halpin tossing peanuts at a man as he's being booked into jail.

The man, handcuffed and intoxicated, has a hard time catching any, even rolling onto the floor to try and eat those he missed.

Randy Miller, a homeless man, was arrested July 18 for trespassing outside a convenience store.

After a few throws, one of three people watching from behind the desk walks over to hand Halpin more.

Later in the video, Miller, clearly hungry, slumps down onto his knees, even rolling on his side just to eat a few fallen nuts from the floor.

Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said, "I am disappointed in what I saw in this video. Due to the actions I've seen on camera, I immediately initiated an internal affairs investigation."

In the meantime, Officer Halpin has been placed on paid administrative leave. He's been with the department since 2006.

People around Sarasota were also disappointed by what they saw.

"I feel bad for him at this point, or at least that nobody is helping him get the peanuts," said Evan Kranz after watching the video. "They're all just kind of standing there. It wasn't a heinous crime but it was ridiculous in a sense."

"If he could have thrown the peanuts at that guy then he probably could have offered him some instead of being rude about it," Joseph Rollek added.

The video strikes a chord with local homeless advocates like Leslie Loveless, the Executive Director of Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness.

“Chief DiPino did the right thing in suspending the officer immediately," Loveless added. "We will never solve community problems by degrading and humiliating other people.  Discrimination takes many form, and is as old as time." 

"I look to Chief DiPino to elevate the conversation and begin working with our Continuum of Care to find solutions, and to assure that all citizens are treated with dignity and respect.”

Randy Miller has been booked into the Sarasota County Jail almost two dozen times in the last year for things like trespassing and drinking in public. That's where he remains.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is also looking into what involvement their personnel had in the incident.