US policeman suspended for giving 'dog commands' to inmate

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Washington, Jul 28: A police officer in the US has been suspended after it emerged that he gave "dog commands" and tossed food to a handcuffed suspect at a jail while allowing the man to eat the food off the floor.

Southwest Florida police officer Andrew Halpin was suspended after his superiors watched a video of him tossing food to the suspect at the Sarasota County jail in Florida.

Washington

As he was being booked into the Sarasota County jail, the officer tossed peanuts into Randy Miller's mouth as if feeding a dog or an animal at the zoo.

Miller, intoxicated and handcuffed, was unable to catch them with his mouth. Several fell to the ground. Minutes later, Miller slumped out of his chair and began eating the peanuts off the booking room floor.

Halpin, who had thrown the nuts at Miller's mouth, kicked them with his boot toward the inmate so he could better reach them on the floor, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Halpin was giving the homeless man "dog commands" during the incident, a source familiar with Miller's July 18 arrest was quoted as saying by the daily.

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino watched the booking video yesterday, and suspended her officer immediately. "Based on the actions in the video, I immediately initiated an internal investigation on Officer Halpin," DiPino was quoted as saying.

"I'm disappointed in what I observed in the video, and placed the officer on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation."

In the video, several sheriff's deputies and a Venice Police officer can be seen watching Halpin's interaction with Miller, but taking no action to stop it.

The deputies' role, too, has become the source of an internal affairs investigation. "Internal Affairs is looking into what involvement our personnel had in the incident," sheriff's spokeswoman Wendy Rose said.

Miller has had an extensive arrest history in Sarasota. Since September, he has been arrested and booked into the county jail 22 times, mostly for trespass, refusing to leave, drinking in public or other petty crimes.

He has remained in the Sarasota County jail since his arrest, unable to make bail.

PTI

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