An internal investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has concluded that there was no wrongdoing by police in the arrest of Barbara Pinkney at her home last December.
The 70-year-old grandmother who had never been in trouble with the law before was tasered multiple times, thrown to the ground and arrested after she asked police to see a warrant before allowing them to search her home. The encounter was captured on video by police body camera.
Community activists say the video shows “brutal” behavior by the deputies and suggests it was racially motivated. The sheriff’s office says Pinkney was obstructing their ability to serve an arrest warrant.
The encounter took place the day after Christmas last year. Deputies went to Pinkney’s home to arrest her grandson Tevin Turner for a probation violation. According to his probation officer, Turner had violated his probation by failing a drug test, possessing marijuana, and answering an inquiry untruthfully.
Deputies arrived at Pinkney’s home around 7 am on December 26 to arrest Turner.
Pinkney says she was awoken that day to police at her door. “It wasn’t really a knock. It sounded like a kick, really,” Pinkney said.
According to the internal investigation, deputies positioned themselves in front of and behind the house and then knocked and identified themselves.
Pinkney says she answered the door and told deputies that Turner wasn’t there. When the deputies said they needed to come inside to search the house she refused, saying they needed a search warrant.
According to the internal investigation, deputies explained to Pinkney that they were allowed to enter and search the home under Florida state law. Deputies said they told Pinkney they would do a quick search in each room for Turner, and then leave.
Deputies decided to enter the home based on their suspicion that Turner was inside. According to the officials, Pinkney pushed one of them in the chest and would not let go of the doorknob.
Community activists feel the deputies’ actions were “excessive” because Pinkney was thrown to the ground and tased more than once.
“Then he shot me again and again and again, I just hollered and I’m just crying,” said Pinkney. “When I got tased, I hollered. I guess I fell to the floor. I got scratched and bruised.”
The internal investigation found the deputy attempting to arrest Pinkney tried to use his stun gun three times, but with no results.
The first time, the deputy fired the stun gun, but only one probe struck Pinkney. Both probes must enter a person to conduct an electrical charge.
The second time, the deputy attempted to perform a drive stun. But the device had been placed into “safe” mode before the probe cartridge had been removed.
Finally, the third time, he attempted to release a five-second energy cycle but found it was ineffective as it still took a second deputy to get Pinkney’s arms behind her back and place her in handcuffs.
While this was happening, her son and the other man outside the home moved toward deputies. Though the other man stopped as instructed, deputies say Johnson continued to try to move forward to intervene in the arrest of Pinkney. As a result, deputies took Johnson to the ground and put him under arrest for obstruction.
During the commotion of the arrests happening at the front of the home, the K9 officer behind the home left his position to make sure his fellow deputies were okay. That left a three-minute window through which Turner could have escaped the home, according to the internal investigation.
The internal investigation concluded the deputies’ actions were “lawful, proper, and in accordance with agency policy.”