Fla. deputy’s bodycam video shows bloody arrest of shoplifting suspect

Tiffany Tebo during the arrest video. Images from WFLA-TV

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco is speaking out about a deputy’s bodycam video that depicts the bloody arrest of a female shoplifting suspect in Wesley Chapel.

Sheriff Nocco posted a link to the video along with a detailed message about it on the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. Nocco said the sheriff’s office had received threats after people viewed edited portions of the video. “Every citizen should watch the entire video before passing judgment,” said Nocco in his Facebook message.

(Watch entire, unedited video above. WARNING: video contains profanity).

In the video, Tiffany Tebo, 29 is seen leaving the Bealls department store in Wesley Chapel on Saturday, she is then immediately confronted by a loss prevention employee and a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputy. The entire exchange is recorded by a camera being worn on the uniform of the deputy.

The loss prevention employee tells Tebo, “Excuse me ma’am, you have some merchandise you didn’t pay for.” Tebo tells the employee she paid for a shirt and he responds, ” You paid for the shirt, what about the shoes?”

The deputy asks Tebo to go back into the store, but when she refuses, the deputy orders her to put her hands behind her back. Tebo pulls away and begs the officer not to take her into custody.

The deputy then grabs Tebo’s hand and attempts to place her in handcuffs, but as she struggles her head slams into a wall and she begins to bleed immediately.

Video of the arrest is now being viewed around the world.

Many have criticized the deputy for the way he handled the arrest.

A Tampa attorney, who is not affiliated with this case, told WFLA she believes the deputy may have gone too far. Leslie Sammis focuses on police misconduct and excessive force.

“It doesn’t really appear he knows exactly what he wants her to do,” Sammis said. “He’s saying, ‘Lay down, put your hands behind your back.’  He’s just giving her instruction after instruction and not giving her a chance to comply with any of the things he wants her to do. So if the sheriff’s office is saying this is an example of how they’re supposed to do things, that’s a problem.”

But Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told WFLA  the video clearly shows the deputy handled the situation as best he could.

“He was justified in everything that he did and that’s the thing, when you go back, we’re able to look at this video and she clearly kept resisting, kept resisting,” said Nocco. Nocco says Tebo’s own actions caused her injury.

“The take down occurred because she kept moving away and you can see it’s a rodeo, it’s a do-si-do and they were going all around and it was the momentum of both of them, him trying to get a hold of her, that’s when she goes into the wall, that’s when she hits her head and that’s when the injury occurs,” said Nocco.

Tebo has been arrested many times before, for the sale of drugs, for shoplifting and domestic battery.

“This is not somebody who’s first time it was interaction with law enforcement,” said Nocco.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office posted the video one day after Tampa Police Department posted a video on its Facebook page featuring numerous clips from officers’ bodycams that show the split-second decisions officers face and the wide variety of situations that officers must deal with.

Below is the entire Facebook post written by Sheriff Nocco.

To the vast and overwhelming majority of the citizens who support us, thank you. We are blessed and humbled by your words of encouragement and appreciation. You are the driving force that keeps us going and we will remain vigilant.

Last weekend, a Pasco Deputy responded to a shoplifting incident in Wesley Chapel. While making contact with the suspect, our deputy attempted to take the suspect into custody by first giving verbal commands with which she did not comply. The deputy then attempted to put handcuffs on her, at which time she still resisted and a confrontation ensued which resulted in an injury to the suspect. This entire incident could have been avoided had the suspect not stolen the product or had complied with the initial commands by the deputy. This was not the first interaction with law enforcement by the suspect. She has a lengthy criminal record and knows how the arrest process works. Unfortunately, she decided to resist.

Thankfully, our agency has implemented the body worn camera and the entire video demonstrates the deputy’s professionalism. He showed concern for the suspect by rendering aid, and his ability to clearly articulate to the suspect that had she complied initially she would have probably been released with a citation. Without the body worn camera, this deputy could have faced an internal affairs investigation. Every

Our agency has received several threats by those watching only edited portions of the video released by the media and reading sensationalized headlines. It is sad that over the past several years, the law enforcement profession has been vilified. The people who are criticizing this incident are stereotyping an entire profession and their attacks are unjust. When we are wrong, we will hold ourselves accountable.

Before people judge an officers’ actions, I would ask how they would react in a split second decision, as our profession requires. We do not work in a static environment as portrayed by many police shows on television. The reality is, we make life and death decisions in a fraction of a second. When people do not comply to lawful orders, such as in this case, we cannot just turn around and walk away.

Some of the reasons we have implemented the body worn camera system is to be transparent and gather critical evidence for criminal cases. Despite some criticism we may receive, our satisfaction comes when we save a child from a sexual predator, a woman from an abusive spouse, and a neighborhood from criminal gangs and drug dealers. That is why we became law enforcement professionals, to protect and serve.

Chris Nocco

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