NAPLES — A veteran Naples police officer was suspended for two days recently after he was caught on his patrol car’s dashboard camera making derogatory comments about residents at a Naples apartment complex, expressing anger at having to throw out a cigar to respond to a call at the complex, and calling a fellow officer a “weasel” and a “pansy.”
Last summer, Chief Tom Weschler discovered the video from Officer David Spearman’s in-car camera while conducting quality assurance reviews, according to a recently released internal investigation. The video shows Spearman responding to a fight around 12:30 a.m. on July 29 at the Gordon River Apartments, 1400 Fifth Avenue North, which has a high percentage of minority residents.
Although Spearman did not make any racial slurs, he did use profane language. At one point he used a word, which could be considered a homosexual slur.
“I just threw out a perfectly good cigar because of these (expletive),” Spearman said. “Somebody is going to (expletive) jail.”
Later in the video Spearman says: “I was parked over in the Commons just puffing away, and these (expletive) have to start up again.”
Spearman called some of the residents at the complex “stupid” and “dumb,” and said the reason for the early-morning fight was because “they don’t (expletive) work. Up all (expletive) night, sleep all day.”
When Officer Ryan Schickfus arrived at the scene, Spearman made derogatory comments about him as well.
“I’m glad Schickfus decided to clear his (meal break) and come down — (expletive) weasel,” Spearman said. “He’s nothing but a pansy-(expletive). He takes three or four (meal breaks) a shift.”
After seeing the video, Weschler said he watched five to 10 more videos from Spearman’s car. Those incidents were all handled professionally, Weschler said.
He said the video is not representative of Spearman’s typical behavior during calls, calling it “out of character.” Spearman was apologetic when confronted with the video, Weschler said, and took steps to address the behavioral issues it raised.
The comments about Schickfus were addressed in house, and Weschler said he is confident that Spearman’s agitation in the video was not race-based.
“I felt comfortable at the end of it that he was not speaking about the neighborhood in general,” Weschler said. “He’s patrolled that neighborhood for years and he has a good rapport with people.”
Spearman was also reprimanded for a traffic stop on July 3, during which he provided dispatchers with inaccurate information when clearing the call, and failed to take appropriate enforcement action.
During the stop, the driver, who was driving a car provided by his employer, Supreme Auto, did not have a vehicle registration or proof of insurance. Unable to reach the owner of the vehicle, former Naples Vice Mayor Johnny Nocera, Spearman released the driver, instructing him to make Nocera aware that supporting documentation was necessary for the vehicle to be operated legally.
Spearman, who started with the department in February 1988, earns $75,914 a year.
- - -
Connect with Ryan Mills at www.naplesnews.com/staff/ryan-mills