A St. Petersburg police officer was fired this week after a review board said he used excessive force during a DUI arrest.
Officer Kenneth Pienik also tried to hide dashcam video of the arrest, according to a report released by the St. Petersburg Police Department.
The arrest took place on January 31. According to the report, officers found a man sleeping in a running car in the North Shore Park parking lot. They woke him up, suspected he was intoxicated, and called the DUI unit, which Officer Pienik worked with.
Pienik arrived and positioned his car so the dashcam would record his investigation.
According to the report, the DUI suspect became “uncooperative” and “argumentative,” and asked for a supervisor.
At that point, video showed Pienik losing his temper, saying “I am my supervisor.”
He then used profanity, flung his clipboard away, and threw the man to the ground. The video also shows what appeared to be Pienik using a stun gun on the man while he was on the ground.
The report goes on to detail a meeting with Pienik and an assistant state attorney. The report says Pienik told the attorney the dashcam video was “of no evidentiary value and it would ‘disappear.’”
The state attorney reported the comment to a supervisor, and the office issued a request for it. The report said Pienik then provided video of the suspect being transported, but not of the arrest.
A St. Petersburg police DUI supervisor found the video, turned it over, and initiated an Internal Affairs investigation, according to the report.
Thursday, a department review board said Pienik used unnecessary force, exhibited conduct unbecoming an employee, and didn’t follow proper procedures. They terminated his employment.
“There were other options and resources available at the time to effect the arrest without the level of force that was used by Officer Pienik,” the report said. It also said Pienik was “well aware” of the requirements for placing dashcam video into evidence.