Three officers cleared of violating civil rights of struggling suspect

(PUNTA GORDA, Fla.) -- Three police officers who hit a struggling suspect with their batons were cleared of wrongdoing by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office on Dec. 1.

The office reviewed the Aug. 13 arrest at the request of Leonard Chappell, president of the Charlotte County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The suspect, Donovan Newsome, 26, is black. The three officers who arrested him are white.

While the officers grappled with Newsome in the front yard of a house on Helen Street, a crowd of 40 people watched. In September, a Punta Gorda Police Department investigation found that the officers did nothing wrong.

Punta Gorda Police Chief Dan Libby said he wasn't surprised by the outcome.

"There was never any doubt in our minds that these officers acted within their authority," Libby said.

Chappell, who accused the police of violating Newsome's civil rights, could not be reached for comment.

According to police, Newsome was convicted in 1999 of drug dealing and was wanted for violating his probation.

He was walking on Showalter Street on the city's east side, when officer Thomas Lewis recognized him and stopped the patrol car. Newsome ran. After a chase, the officer caught him and they struggled.

Two other officers, Christopher Alexander and Christopher Salsman, arrived and they hit Newsome a total of 12 times on the arms and legs, police reports say.

Officers cleared of using force
Robert Eckhart Staff Writer
December 02, 2000, Saturday, Venice Edition
Copyright 2000 Sarasota Herald-Tribune Co.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
December 02, 2000, Saturday, Venice Edition
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