Clearwater Cop Fired for Using Excessive Force on Teen, Department Says
The officer was found to have violated the Clearwater Police Department’s use of force policy.
CLEARWATER – A police officer was fired after an internal review found that he used unnecessary force on a teenager who was in custody, according to the Clearwater Police Department.
Michael Leonardo, who had worked for the department since Oct. 22, 2012, had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards. That investigation culminated in a review by command staff recently. That review found Leonardo violated use-of-force policy.
The decision to fire Leonardo stemmed from an April 2 incident. Police were called to Family Resources, 1615 Union St., at about 10 a.m. because a 13-year-old resident there was creating a disturbance and acting violently, throwing and breaking things and punching another teenager. Family Resources is a temporary shelter for youth.
The first officer on scene told the teenager he was being charged with battery and placed him into custody. On the way out the door of the facility, the officer said he thought the teen was trying to break away. The teenager was taken to the ground, while handcuffed behind his back, hitting his face on the pavement. He suffered facial injuries and was taken to Morton Plant Hospital.
Per department policy, a supervisor reviews any use-of-force incidents, checking for video and any other evidence available. After video from the shelter was reviewed, Leonardo was placed on administrative duty pending the formal and more thorough investigation by the Office of Professional Standards.
For information about the Clearwater Police Department, go to clearwaterpolice.org.
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