TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The head of a Florida chapter of the NAACP is calling for a Tampa police officer to be fired after the release of body camera video from an incident that took place in June 2022.
The video was recorded on body camera belonging to Officer Dukagjin Maxhuni, a 10-year veteran of the department, during an arrest outside of a store in Ybor Heights.
In the video, the suspect can be seen running toward Maxhuni while trying to avoid other officers attempting to take him into custody. Maxhuni and the suspect appear to collide, after which the suspect hits the ground.
It’s the words and actions of Maxhuni after the arrest that are now being called into question.
“That was one hell of a flying knee from me guys,” the officer is heard yelling, indicating that he hit the suspect with his knee. “Hey, hey, we got him relax. That was one hell of a flying knee, I didn’t even know I could do that.”
Maxhuni is then heard taunting a nearby crowd of onlookers.
“What are you going to do? What are you going to do? What are you going to do? Hey, loud mouth, what are you going to do? Come talk to me now. You want to be a tough guy, come talk to me now,” Maxhuni says.
Much of what Maxhuni yelled was too profane to share.
Yvette Lewis, the president of the Hillsborough County’s NAACP chapter, has seen the video. She believes the officer was trying to bait the crowd into a fight.
“Very unacceptable, very unacceptable,” said Lewis. “The officer walked around taunting the young men that were standing there. I have a problem with that.”
Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw issued a statement regarding the incident, calling Maxhuni’s behavior “unacceptable.”
“The officers’ actions and statements were unacceptable and failed to treat the community with the dignity and respect that is the standard of the Tampa Police Department,” Bercaw said. “We have a system in place to flag behavior not consistent with our code of conduct. In this situation, it worked. An internal audit identified the behavior, and an investigation was immediately launched back in 2022. The officer was disciplined and removed from his squad and the neighborhood he served. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. The Tampa Police Department will continue to hold all officers to the highest possible standard as it’s what our community expects and deserves.”
Lewis believes that the officer should be fired.
“Who’s the next person he’s going to run in to, and is this behavior going to continue?” Lewis said.