Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Police officer quits after he slashed
homeless man's bike tires

A police officer resigned this morning from the Tarpon Springs Police Department after an internal investigation determined that he slashed the bicycle tires of a homeless man.

Officer Jeffrey Robinson had retaliated for the homeless man's use of racial slurs Jan. 28 as Robinson was taking him to the Pinellas County Jail, the internal report said.

A video captures Robinson, who is black, going into a police storage room and rolling the bicycle out on Feb. 8. Moments later, it shows him wheeling a wobbly bicycle back into the storage room.

Robinson, 52, admitted to slashing the tires in retaliation for the use of racial slurs, the report said.

"This is very serious misconduct," said acting police Chief Robert Kochen. "I was going to fire him if he had not resigned."

The homeless man, John Bilawsky, 46, who is white, was arrested on trespassing charges at a Tarpon Springs business Jan. 28. He used the n-word repeatedly while he was being transported to the local jail, according to the report.

Read the St. Petersburg Times report here.

Update: The St. Petersburg Times applauds the Tarpon Springs Police Department for sending "an unmistakable and necessary message ... that serious transgressions will not be ignored." Read the editorial here.


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