Nick Evans drew national attention for dragging a shopping cart while driving his patrol car
By MICHAEL A. SCARCELLA
BRADENTON, Fla. — Nick Evans is cloaked in a long robe with a black belt around his waist. He is barefoot and grinning.
Balancing on one foot, he repeatedly and methodically smacks his right shin against a target in the center of the martial arts studio.
His students are counting up with every strike -- one, two, three, four, five, six. And so on. Evans blows on his fingers, a gesture of pride. Easy work. No sweat.
Just a few months ago, his uniform was navy blue and he wore black shoes to work as a beat officer for the Bradenton Police Department. The Bradenton native was a patrolman for three years before he turned in his badge in February.
Evans is the former officer who, while driving his patrol car, dragged a homeless woman's shopping cart 12 miles to the Manatee County jail one night. Surveillance videos generated national attention.
Evans was praised for his compassion. He was also ridiculed.
Police say Evans took a second cart for a spin the next night -- taking the CVS-owned four-wheeler from one side of the street to the other. Facing a 30-day suspension for insubordination, Evans quit. Now, he is a software programmer by day and martial arts instructor at night.
"I love it, absolutely love it," says Evans, 26, whose daughters are enrolled at his studio.
All Star's Tae Kwon Do is in the Saddle Creek Plaza in the 5300 block of 26th Street West in Bradenton.
Evans has been a black belt since 1993 and prefers tae kwon do to karate and kung-fu. He and his wife, Liz, put their savings into opening All Star's earlier this year.
His days of demonstrating martial arts to his children in his living room are over.
There are eight students in the regular class, ages 5 and up, and three in the junior-level group for children under 5. Evans' daughters, who are 5 and 6 years old, are taking the classes.
On a recent evening, six eager children took turns balancing on a wood beam, punching and kicking the air.
"I got your game, mister," says 11-year-old Andrea Bieber, who manages to stay balanced on the wood board while fending off Evans. Bieber was tested and advanced two belt-levels that evening.
Evans tries to calm down the hyper children to teach them control, and he strives to pump self-esteem into the shy students.
As a police officer, Evans says he relied more on talking his way out of tense situations than resorting to self-defense techniques.
But one time, he recalls taking down a woman who refused to be handcuffed.
Evans was critical of how police supervisors handled the shopping cart investigations, saying he was left in the dark about the investigation.
But he says he is glad he left the police department, allowing him a chance to pursue a dream.
Marie L. Brooks, the cart-toting homeless woman Evans arrested that night on a probation violation warrant, has been deemed mentally incompetent and likely will not stand trial.
Copyright 2007 Sarasota Herald-Tribune Co.
All Rights Reserved
Former Fla officer finds bliss in martial arts