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Charlotte Co. SO shares arrest on bodyworn cameras to address online criticism

Both eyewitnesses and social media users challenged the physical takedown and restraint of a man reported as trespassing at a Wawa store
Posted at 7:29 PM, Mar 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 19:29:09-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — On Wednesday, March 13, deputies with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest at a Port Charlotte Wawa that garnered some criticism online. This prompted Sheriff Bill Prummell to issue a statement and release body camera footage of the incident.

Charlotte County deputies responded to the Wawa around 4 p.m. when employees called about a man sleeping outside.

When they arrived, deputies say they found 19-year-old Tedrick Page, of Port Charlotte sitting at a table outside. The sheriff's office said deputies knew Page from previous interactions around the community. The agency said Page was usually cooperative with deputies, but in this case deputies "immediately realized that he was not acting like his usual self. The deputies asked Page if he was OK and if they could call EMS to medically evaluate him" according to the agency's social media post online.

The sheriff's office said Deputies pleaded with Page for three minutes, telling him EMS was going to come examine him. Then, as Page got up and entered the first set of doors to the Wawa, the deputies used a technique to detain Page from entering the store where other people were, by taking him to the ground. Page began to bleed from his mouth in the fall, while one deputy used a baton to get control of his arm so he could be handcuffed. Once the deputies had detained of Page, deputies say Page spit blood on a deputy and a bystander as he was escorted outside.

Bystander videos and pictures of the interaction began to circulate on social media, questioning whether the deputies acted appropriately while dealing with someone that some felt was harmless.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office told Port Charlotte's Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk they didn't wish to comment further, but pointed to a comment from Sheriff Bill Prummell in their own social media post.

“I cannot believe that I have to release this statement at all to squash the nonsense, misinformation, and rumors that are being spread by a handful of individuals through their modified video release. Anyone who knows what we stand for knows that this agency does not tolerate excessive force, racism, or the type of hateful policing that these few people are attempting to smear us with. My deputies tried to help this individual and did not want to make an arrest, but were given no choice because of his decisions. I stand by my deputies’ actions which were clearly within our policies.”

Sheriff Bill Prummell, Charlotte County Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Bill Prummell

Orenczuk turned to David Thomas to provide an independent review of the arrest. Thomas is a law enforcement specialist and professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“They handled it well, contrary to what the public probably sees,” said Thomas. “The use of force is in line with everything that is reasonable.”

Some comments online were made about the deputy using his baton, which Thomas said was a standard way to gain control of a suspect's arm when the person has their hands under their body. Also, tasers or body strikes were also authorized to be used in a situation like this, even as those actions could have garnered more criticism from eyewitnesses.

“The baton was pretty old school, but today it could have been a taser, or popping you on the leg or popping you on the arm. I know if the deputy would have done that, which is probably within policy guidelines, the people would just really scream. So, they need to understand that it was actually very civil and very reasonable."

Thomas also commended Sheriff Prummell for his transparency on the issue.

“The transparency is wonderful, and it really shows that you have nothing to hide,” said Thomas.

Ultimately, Page was arrested and faces several charges, including trespassing, resisting an officer without violence and battery of a police officer. The last charge is in connection to the spitting.