A black man who ran from Key West police during a drug investigation in February is claiming he was racially profiled by an officer whom he also accuses of misusing a Taser during the chase.
Everette Fitzgerald Wilson, 48, claims Officer Brian Leahy abused his authority by firing a Taser at Wilson's back while chasing him on Petronia Street on Feb. 18, according to his complaint filed with the Citizen Review Board.
Wilson claims that because Leahy allegedly exited a patrol car with Taser in hand when Wilson was not acting in a threatening manner, the officer set out to shock Wilson, according to his five-page, handwritten complaint from Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.
Wilson labeled Leahy a "modern day oppressor" who thinks "all people of color are drug dealers" and arrests more black people than white people, according to his complaint.
Chief Donie Lee investigated Wilson's claim and found that since Leahy's hire, he has arrested 39 white people and 11 black people and that there was "no evidence to support Mr. Wilson's claim of racial profiling ... [or] to support misconduct or inappropriate use of a Taser by Officer Leahy," according to an email Lee sent to CRB Executive Director Sue Srch.
Leahy was on patrol at noon in the 400 block of Petronia Street when he saw Wilson talking to two people in a green Chevrolet Tahoe parked in the middle of the street, according to the incident report the officer filed.
He then saw Wilson's arms inside the driver's side window and suspected a drug deal, the report states.
Leahy wrote in the report that he had investigated "numerous narcotic-related incidents" previously at the same location and knew that Wilson had a warrant out alleging felony theft.
The officer then exited his "patrol vehicle with Taser drawn and approached Wilson from behind."
Wilson turned, saw Leahy and started to run up the stairs of a nearby apartment at 733 Whitehead St. when Leahy shot the Taser, the report states. One prong hit Wilson, but the other prong hit the wall, which rendered it ineffective.
Wilson then ran into the second-floor apartment and barricaded himself inside for a while before coming out and being arrested, according to the report. Wilson had $830 in his hand when arrested, an amount that Leahy described as consistent with street-level drug sales, but which Wilson claimed was for a sewer bill, the report states.
Wilson wrote that he recalled seeing someone sneaking up beside him with what appeared to be a handgun before he fled, and that he was not a danger to himself or others when Leahy shot him with the Taser.
He was wanted on a felony warrant accusing him of stealing two TVs on April 18, 2011, from CVS pharmacy at 530 Truman Ave. He is still in jail under no bail on charges of resisting arrest without violence, failure to appear in court and felony theft, according to jail records.
The CRB is a volunteer, independent board that investigates complaints made against Key West police officers and recommends what disciplinary actions, if any, should be taken and brings it to Lee, who ultimately makes such decisions within the department.
The CRB will discuss Wilson's complaint at its 6 p.m. meeting this evening at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St., Srch said.
The board delayed the matter until board attorney Robert Cintron could get a sworn statement from Wilson at the jail, Srch said.
"Because Officer Leahy has the benefit to expound on what happens, so should Mr. Wilson be afforded the same benefit," Srch said.
Cintron said Monday he was scheduled to get a sworn statement from Wilson affirming his complaint on Wednesday, particularly the use of the Taser.
"The board wants to make sure they understand his complaint," Cintron said.