Local group frustrated as Citizen’s Review Board refuses to investigate case of police violence

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Joseph Nohava with Tampa Bay CAC By: Josh Holton (10/24/2023)

A local group says that the Tampa Citizen’s Review Board is not doing enough to pursue justice for victims of police violence. Last night the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee failed to persuade the Citizen’s Review Board to investigate injuries Tampa Police officers caused a woman 4 years ago.

Kelsey Storemski wasn’t driving drunk, but as an intoxicated passenger, she found herself in an altercation with law enforcement when Tampa Police officers tried to bring her to a hospital. Joseph Nohava, with Tampa Bay Community Action Committee, said she just wanted to go home.

“That would have been in everybody’s best interest but the cops decided to take her to the hospital for some reason. And, you know, obviously she opposed that.”

The police report said Storemski was kicking, and biting officers during the struggle. At some point they pinned her to the ground, bruising her forehead. Gareth Dawkins is with Tampa Bay CAC, and demanded disciplinary action against the police officers.

“Nicholas J. Hardesty and Adonis Morejon, who arrested and brutalized her in 2019.”

Kevin Schoolmeesters, the captain of the Professional Standards Bureau for Tampa Police answered board member Lincoln Tamayo, who asked him about the statute of limitations.

“And then we find out again from Ms. Storemski two years after that she got these injuries?”

“Yeah, correct. We don’t have access to her medical record or information.”

“And then also just to play some context, you have said that if this were to happen today, the body worn cameras would automatically be turned on as a matter of procedure?”

“Yeah, I mean, anytime an officer takes police activity they’re mandated to have their camera system on.”

At the time there were only 68 body cameras in use, compared to more than 700 now.  But even if officers had been wearing body cameras, Schoolmeesters said the Police Benevolent Association’s contract with the city at the time would have prevented anyone outside the police department from bringing a complaint more than 120 days after an incident.

“While this article was removed from the current contract, it was still in place at the time of this incident and the time with the reporting of the complaint.”

The CAC is questioning the board’s effectiveness after choosing to not investigate this case. Board member Carolyn Collins said the police now have more body cameras because of a grant request made by the CRB. And those cameras could prevent future victims of police brutality from lacking the evidence they need to prove an injustice.

 

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