Frustration led Naples officer to flick man off, results in suspension

Reporter: Jennifer Jones and Stanley B. Chambers Jr.
Published: Updated:

NAPLES, Fla. – A Naples police officer who admitted to anger management issues in displaying his middle finger to a man during an argument in October will serve a four day suspension for the act, the Naples Police Department said.

Master Officer Andrew Emerson, who returned to patrol duty on Wednesday after being placed on administrative leave, will serve his suspension Dec. 28-29 and Jan. 2-3, the department said. Two of those days will be without pay, officials said.

Emerson was recorded on video cursing and flicking off a contractor over a parking dispute on Oct. 28 outside Naples City Hall. Officers were called to the area by a city construction inspector who encountered “two hostile subjects,” according to a police internal affairs report.

The confrontation was the third incident between David Tripp, the contractor who recorded Emerson’s actions, and city building officials, the report said.

“In each incident, employees of Superior Propane parked vehicles and equipment in a manner which was deemed unsafe by City of Naples building officials,” the report said. “The vehicles and equipment were parked in such a way as to block multiple parking spaces in the east side parking lot of Naples City Hall.”

Emerson’s encounter with Tripp was the second between the two that month, the report said.

“Upon leaving the scene, Master Officer Emerson walked past David Tripp, displayed the middle finger of his right hand, and uttered to David Tripp ‘get this in your video [expletive],'” the report said.

Tripp posted the video to his Facebook page, which gained the attention of Naples police two hours later, the report said.

Later that day, Tripp posted a second video showing him asking Naples police Lt. Ralph Anthony to speak with the police chief.

“During the second video, David Tripp does not state why he wants to speak to the chief of police,” the report said. “Lieutenant Anthony advised David Tripp multiple times that the chief was not available at the time. Lieutenant Anthony asked David Tripp to leave his contact information, but David Tripp refused.”

Speaking with internal affairs investigators, Emerson explained his actions.

“Master Officer Emerson stated that he felt frustrated by the events leading up to this point, and was waiting for someone to ‘step up’ and take charge of the situation,” the report said. “Master Officer Emerson explained that his frustration stemmed from prior incidents, involving Daniel David Tripp and David Tripp, for very similar circumstances.”

During the Oct. 6 incident, David Tripp was recorded on video “angrily defying” a stop-work order from city officials, the report said. That encounter prompted Emerson, who was on citywide patrol Oct. 28, to respond to city hall to help ensure officer safety, the report said.

“Master Officer Emerson states that at no point did any of the city personnel on scene take a step back and assess what their options were when it came to enforcing a stop-work order issued by the building department,” the report said. “Master Officer Emerson goes on to state that this is something that should have been done; it would have resolved a lot of problems.”

Emerson, a 20-year veteran, admitted his actions were inappropriate and sought counseling for stress and anger management issues the following day, the report said.

“I have had to swallow my pride and tell (the counselor) things that didn’t make me feel that great about myself, but I am striving to be a better person,” Emerson wrote in a letter to department officials prior to his suspension announcement. “I have purchased a workbook on anger control and each week discuss a chapter with the counselor. It has been very beneficial and I have learned techniques for managing anger when in stressful situations such as relaxation skills and trigger thoughts.”

Emerson’s actions violated department policy relating to “immoral, unlawful or improper conduct or indecency, either on or off the job, which would tend to affect the employee’s relationship to his job, his fellow workers, his reputation or goodwill in the community.”

No criminal violations or charges were filed in the incident.

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