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Florida Cop Fired After Video Shows Him Taser an Elderly Man in Wheelchair Four Times

A St. Petersburg, Florida police officer has been fired after body-camera footage showed him tasering an elderly man who was in a wheelchair four times. 

Last week the St. Petersburg chief of police announced that he has fired Officer Matthew Cavinder for not following the department’s de-escalation protocols during the arrest that occurred last summer.

“We will not tolerate this type of behavior when we are arresting someone,” Police Chief Anthony Holloway said in a press conference on Sunday. 

According to Holloway, the incident came to his attention when a supervisor reviewing body-camera footage for the use of force arrest saw how the officer handled the situation. The supervisor sent the video to the Office of Professional Standards, who then sent the video to the command staff. Upon reviewing the footage, Holloway said he immediately fired Officer Cavinder. 

The incident unfolded just before 5 p.m. on June 20 2021. Officer Cavinder and his partner were called to a Chevron gas station for a trespassing complaint of a man panhandling outside. When officers arrived they encountered Timothy Grant, 64, who was in a wheelchair, and appeared to be panhandling at the location. After running a background check on the man, the officer found there were 5 active warrants on Grant, according to officials.

Cavinder tells Grant he is under arrest due to the outstanding warrants. Grant appears confused and continuously says he doesn’t have any warrants. A struggle between the two officers and Grant ensues for a few minutes. During the struggle Cavinder threatens to tase the elderly man multiple times. 

“You have a warrant for your arrest. Stop resisting or you’re going to get tased,” Cavinder says, holding the Taser to Grant’s left shoulder blade.

Grant lies down, continuing to ask why he’s being arrested, and Cavinder continues to threaten him with the Taser. The officers lift him off the ground, putting him back in his wheelchair as they continue trying to pull Grant’s hands behind his back.

“Put your hands behind your back,” Cavinder says, “You’re going to get tased.”

After a few more seconds struggling with Grant’s right arm, Cavinder presses the Taser to Grant’s back and tases him for about 5 seconds. The officer then tases the 64-year-old three more times, each time Grants yells in pain. 

“What the officer did wrong, what we saw was, instead of using both of his hands, he went right to his Taser and he started tasing Mr. Grant,” Holloway said.

According to Holloway, the officer “dry stunned” Grant four times. 

“I think I looked at that video over 20 times,” Holloway said during the press conference, “Today, I still cannot explain why that officer went to his Taser. We train officers every year. Everyone at this police department is trained on de-escalation. He went right to his Taser. No.”

In his report, Cavinder stated that Grant was “resisting with violence”, however Holloway points out that, as seen in the video, Grant was not resisting with violence.

According to court documents, Grant was arrested that day on a charge of resisting an officer with violence, which is felony. As seen in the body-camera footage, at no point does Grant hurt or threaten the officers, which is the standard in Florida law for that charge.

In July, prosecutors downgraded the charge to resisting an officer without violence, which is a misdemeanor. Grant pleaded guilty to that charge and was sentenced to time served and a $500 fine.

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