TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A St. Petersburg police officer was fired for using excessive force on a man who uses a wheelchair while making an arrest last year.
The St. Petersburg Police Department announced the firing of Officer Matthew Cavinder on Thursday, saying he violated the department’s policy and procedures when he used his Taser on June 20.
Police body camera showed how the incident unfolded.
Police said Cavinder and another officer tried to arrest Timothy Grant outside the Chevron Gas Station on 4890 22nd Avenue South. Grant was accused of panhandling and had outstanding warrants for failure to appear.
Cavinder and the other officer informed Grant of the warrants and tried to take him into custody, but couldn’t get him into the patrol car.
Police said Cavinder “drive stunned” (Tasered without prongs) Grant multiple times, although he was not physically resisting arrest in a way that it was warranted.
“My brother’s in a wheelchair. And if you look at him, he can hardly walk. He can hardly move,” Patricia Grant, the sister of Timothy Grant said. “That was just unnecessary. Look at it. Look at it, that was just unnecessary.”
Chief Anthony Holloway convened a command review board, which determined Cavinder violated the department’s policy and procedures. His employment was terminated.
“I’m glad that they did fire him,” Patricia said. “They finally did something that needed to be done.”
Martha Zlazo, a Chevron store clerk, said he always saw Timothy smiling. “Actually, I spoke to him a few times. He was very nice to me,” Zlazo said.
Police said Cavinder joined the department in March 2020 and patrolled District 3.
The FDLE Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission will determine whether he can keep his state certification.