PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) — The Panama City Beach Police Department just wrapped up an internal investigation involving one of their officers.
The officer was captured on video dispersing a crowd with pepper spray.
That video went viral on social media and ultimately prompted the department to look into what happened.
The incident happened on April 24. Corporal Robert Clifton was patrolling on Front Beach Road. Around 8:20 p.m. he noticed a large crowd catering near the Baymont Hotel.
According to the officer’s incident report, Clifton responded to a possible crash involving an overturned golf cart.
When he got to the scene there was a huge crowd.
Police officials released a video from nearby businesses that night where you can see a pretty large crowd walking down Front Beach Road in the area.
Clifton also stated he saw people jumping on the golf cart and being destructive. He said he tried to break up the crowd himself asking them to move multiple times using his loudspeaker on the car to really get their attention.
When they didn’t, he said he sprayed four short bursts of pepper spray above them, which made people spread out and allowed him to get to the golf cart.
The report says Clifton then called for backup. When the other officer arrived the two broke up the crowd and were able to move the damaged golf cart out of the road.
His actions came into question the following day after he was captured on video with the pepper spray.
The completed internal investigation, released to News 13, reveals Corporal Clifton did violate standard operating procedures, but not for his use of pepper spray.
It was because he didn’t report any of the incidents.
Witness statements state that the crowds were being violent towards the officers and Clifton sprayed the pepper spray above people’s heads not directly at them.
As a result, he was suspended for 8 hours without pay and placed on one year of probation.