At a Dec. 8 appeal in front of Town Manager Bruce St. Denis, Southwest Police Benevolent Association Attorney Michael Krohn argued that the firing of former town Police Officer Jessica Anderson was unjust, when comparing her actions to those of other officers.
Anderson awakened Key resident James Menendez June 14 and told him to move his vehicle from the median, even though the vehicle was not creating a traffic hazard. Anderson did not give the man an opportunity to produce his driver’s license or move the vehicle before arresting him for resisting, obstructing and failure to obey a lawful command.
The arrest was not upheld by the State Attorney’s Office, and Anderson was fired Oct. 21 after Police Chief Al Hogle determined Anderson took away the rights of a Longboat Key citizen for what was not deemed a legitimate arrest.
Town labor attorney Reynolds Allen, of Allen, Norton and Blue, called Anderson’s actions atrocious, unacceptable and clearly indicative that the town should not employ her.
“She lost total control of a situation that was a very routine matter, blown completely out of proportion,” Allen said. “She utilized totally unacceptable and gross language and arrested a citizen who had no need to be arrested in front of his children.”
Allen noted that Anderson apologized for the incident but that she gave no indication that she was disputing her actions at a pre-disciplinary hearing earlier this year.
Krohn, however, said Anderson’s actions did not rise to the level of termination.
“Her actions were clearly wrong on that date,” Krohn said. “However, other officers with lengthy complaint records with this agency have used gross language during routine matters with town citizens and were not terminated.”
Krohn submitted into the record copies of reprimands and reports from three Longboat Key police officers as evidence.
While the audio of the incident that led to Anderson’s firing was played twice during the hearing, Krohn explained that what the chief could not see during the video was Menendez repeatedly trying to walk away from Anderson while making no attempt to retrieve his license.
Said Anderson on the witness stand: “He was lunging forward in an aggressive manner that a trained officer would take active safety measures against.”
Anderson, however, said if she had to do it all over again, she would have just left a parking ticket for Menendez on the windshield of his truck.
While Hogle was on the witness stand, he told St. Denis that Anderson’s conduct was an embarrassment to the town and he was worried what would happen the next time Anderson was in a similar situation.
Krohn, however, told Hogle that if he was concerned about Anderson’s behavior, he should have removed her from the force immediately instead of keeping her on the town’s payroll for weeks after Hogle found out about the incident.
Krohn told St. Denis his client is seeking reinstatement as a police officer. Attorneys will present final written arguments by Jan. 18. St. Denis will make his final decision after that.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at email@example.com.
Currently 4 Responses
- I seen this on youtube and could not believe it.....This Lady should not have a badge or a gun on her side ever again......if you ever wonder why people are scared of the police.....this is why.......Some cops get that big head and think they can do anything and make up laws as they go. Bad thing is if it was not for the Dash Cam she would have gotta away will all of it.
- I'm not really seeing what Rita's getting at. I have multiple traffic infractions but still have rights! Speeding is a mistake. Dragging someone out of there house and assaulting them because you don't like where he parked is NOT a mistake. It's an indication of a very serious underlying psychological disorder.
She also appeared more than happy to make up whatever reasons she wanted for arresting him. "He was obstructing ME and I'm not gonna deal with it". She didn't seem to know (or care) what the law ACTUALLY says.
I think Jessica should have been referred to the DA's office and charged with kidnapping. I will sleep better tonight knowing she's off the force.
Rita, If you are able to provide any evidence of other officers acting similarly, please let us know so we can take appropriate action.
It is sad when the only defense Mr. Krohn had was, "don't fire her, because so many other officers are worse." HOW ABSURD.
We all saw the BS arrest and the terrible language she used in front of his children. SHAME ON HER AND SHAME ON YOU FOR DEFENDING SUCH AN ANIMAL. She hasn't the demeanor or the intelligence to have a gun and badge.
- First I must note that all these articles and such state she awakened this poor resident, the incident occurred around 845 in the evening I find this hard to believe Mr. Menendez was fast asleep but that is the least of my worries at this point. Mr. Menendez is made out to be such a law abiding citizen in this case however a simple search of the Manatee County Clerk of Courts alone show Mr. Menendez has had 7 traffic infractions in the past as well as other non traffic related offenses and that is in Manatee County alone. In fact Mr. Menendez was recently arrested in Sarasota County for DUI. Hmmmm sounds to me as if he isn't such a law abiding citizen. All Ofc. Anderson was trying to accomplish was to have Mr. Menendez move his vehicle which was creating a traffic hazard and according to the reports he was refusing to comply.
In any event, Officer Anderson admitted she was wrong by using inappropriate language during the incident. According to Mr. Krohn other officers in the agency have used inappropriate language during interactions with citizens and received only letter of reprimands or just a slap on the wrist. Something just seems fishy about this situation and hopefully Mr. Krohn was able to get to the bottom of it. Just some thoughts people.
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