TAMPA — A Hillsborough sheriff’s sergeant was fired and arrested for pointing his weapon at the head of an unarmed Black man who was already in custody, Sheriff Chad Chronister announced Friday.
Sgt. Janak Amin had served 21 years with the agency. He faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
“Sgt. Amin’s actions, the violation of public trust and the dishonoring of his oath to serve and protect, is despicable,” the sheriff said at a Friday news conference outside the agency’s Ybor City headquarters.
The incident that cost the sergeant his job took place Thursday at the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Annie Street.
A jail inmate who was “inadvertently” taken to DACCO Behavioral Health Center left the facility, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies went looking for him. They found him hiding and detained the man, the sheriff said.
The man was placed in a “prone” position, but refused to give his name to deputies. “He was not armed and made no aggressive actions towards our deputies,” Chronister said.
The sheriff said Amin, who was kneeling next to the detained man, became angry, pulled out his weapon and threatened his life “simply because he refused to identify himself.”
“If you don’t provide your name, I’ll splatter your brains all over the concrete,” the sergeant told the man, the sheriff said.
Other deputies intervened, Chronister said, and defused the situation. They also used an alternative method to identify the man without his cooperation.
But Chronister emphasized what he called the “most egregious” nature of the incident: Amin pointed his gun just inches away from the head of an unarmed man, the sheriff said.
“I don’t think this incident is indicative of who Sgt. Amin is, but, regardless, it takes only one incidence to violate the oath that you take, the public’s trust and break the law,” Chronister said. “There is absolutely no reason, no excuse and no justification for why this sergeant acted the way he did.”
Chronister said he could not release the name of the victim due to the sheriff’s interpretation of Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment that is designed to protect crime victims but also deprives the public of information that has historically been provided in Florida.
But Chronister said the man later told deputies that he was scared for his life.