(SS) Wilton Manors police fired an officer after seven months on the job and the department said it is investigating him for possible criminal activity.
Douglas John Dickinson, 28, joined the department on Sept. 23, and earned $52,042. He was dismissed April 27.
“Mr. Dickinson has been terminated while a probationary employee for not meeting department standards,” Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell said. “After his termination, our department opened a criminal investigation in which Mr. Dickinson is the subject.”
Citing the criminal investigation, O’Connell said he could not comment further.
Dickinson previously worked for Camden County Police in New Jersey. In October, a month into working his new job in South Florida, he pleaded guilty to a charge of simple assault, according to the Camden County prosecutors’ office.
When asked about his departure from Wilton Manors police, its investigation and his approximately two-year employment with Camden County police, Dickinson said by phone Monday, “I have no comment on any of that.”
He declined to identify an attorney who may be representing him in either situation.
A federal court lawsuit accuses Dickinson of violating the civil rights of Quinzelle Bethea, a man he arrested in Camden County in 2015 on suspicion of resisting arrest, obstructing justice and assault on a police officer.
Bethea spent three weeks in a Camden County jail because he couldn’t pay $15,000 bail. Bethea’s complaint alleges that surveillance video of the arrest showed Dickinson had assaulted Bethea, who required a visit to a hospital for injuries to his arms and shoulders and abrasions to his right eye, nose, knees and elbows and bruises on the back of his head.
Charges against Bethea were dismissed in April 2016. Bethea is seeking a jury trial and damages, alleging unnecessary and excessive force, illegal search, false arrest and malicious prosecution, according to the complaint.
A spokesman for Camden County Police could not be reached.
Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo charged Dickinson with filing false police reports in two cases and one count of simple assault, according to a June 2016 news release from that office.
Those alleged offenses prompted Colalillo to dismiss at least 18 cases, mostly related to drug distribution, because Dickinson was the sole officer who would have been called to testify, she said then.
In October, Dickinson pleaded guilty to simple assault in the Camden prosecutor’s case, said Alexandra McVeigh, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office. The number of cases Dickinson was involved with rose to more than 35, she said.
O’Connell said all applicants to Wilton Manors police undergo background checks.
“There have been no complaints from city of Wilton Manors residents for any police abuse [related to Dickinson],” O’Connell said.