ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) — Cornell Devore may be heading to state prison for stealing frozen shrimp from Publix the day after Christmas. And getting to jail wasn’t any party either.
A St. Petersburg police officer shocked him for at least 21 seconds with a Taser device while he flailed on the ground after Devore fled from a downtown Publix store with three bags of stolen shrimp shoved down the front of his pants.
A cell phone video recorded by another shopper shows the man writhing on the ground in pain as the shopper pleads with the officer to stop shocking the homeless man.
“The fact that you could her that clicking noise means he wasn’t fully incapacitated. Normally when someone is tazed, they are completely incapacitated but you can see he is still moving, so that is a safety risk for the officer,” said St. Petersburg Police spokeswoman Sandra Bentil. “There was a struggle that was not shown on the video that you have and that’s what lead to him being tazed.”
Criminal Defense attorney Roger Futerman watched the cell phone video and disagrees with police tactics in this case.
“He should’ve let that go once that man was on the ground clearly rolling over in agony,” Futerman said. “It’s not appropriate to roll a man over with your foot and when I listen to that tape, I think he says ‘roll over b***h’ and under no circumstances is that acceptable professional conduct by a police officer.”
Police say they didn’t her the expletive on the cell phone video until 8 On Your Side brought it to their attention and said they would review the video again.
But otherwise, they say longtime police officer Christopher Goodwin followed procedures by the book when he deployed his Taser device to arrest Devore.
According to the police report, Devore admitted stealing the shrimp. Since he has a dozen or so prior petit theft cases on his 35 year criminal record, that makes the theft a felony punishable by time in state prison. Devore has already spent 27 years in prison for previous crimes. He just got out of prison in March for his last petit theft.
According to the police report, the bags of shrimp were returned to Publix. A store manager says Publix did not re-sell the product to another customer.