Springfield officer violated ‘Use of Force’ policy change weeks after revision

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SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WMBB)–In June, Springfield Police fired officer Ronnie Nelson, then charged him for using excessive force on a black man. The incident also persuaded department officials to change their “Use of Force” policy. But those changes resulted in another officer being reprimanded.

According to an incident report, on August 21st Springfield officer Joseph Romano approached Nakia Roberts on Third Street after staff at a nearby AMI claimed Roberts stole a floor scrubber.

“They ID’ed you as someone that was the suspect of a crime over there. I need your ID so we can talk to you and figure this out,” said Officer Romano as heard in the body camera footage.

The body camera footage shows Roberts refusing to hand over an ID. Instead, he gives the officer a false name, “Tony Brown”.

“I need you to turn around, put your hands behind your back. Right now they have positively identified you as stealing something from them. So you’re not under arrest but you’re detained until I can figure out whether you’re the person,” explains Officer Romano in the video.

Roberts begins to resist the officer, then runs away.

“You need to stop or you’re gonna get tased,” said Romano.

Seconds later, Officer Romano tases Roberts who then collapses. He was cleared by doctors at a local hospital, then taken to the Bay County Jail.

Roberts is charged with resisting an officer without violence and giving a false name to law enforcement.

Springfield Police Department opened a “Use of Force” investigation and found Officer Romano’s use of his taser violated the department’s revised use of force policy.

Before the July revision, the use of force was warranted for “active resistance”. After the revision, a suspect has to “aggressively resist”.

An internal investigation found Nakia Brown’s actions were not “aggressive”, so officer Romano’s tasing was not warranted.

Romano received a written reprimand and had to undergo new electronic control weapon training within 30 days, which we’re told he completed in September.

Springfield Police Chief Barry Roberts declined our request for comment as did a concerned resident who believes Romano should have faced more severe punishment.

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