Recorded on police dashcam video shooting an unarmed woman in the groin, a Florida sheriff’s deputy was indicted Wednesday on charges that he used unreasonable force by shooting an unarmed woman and misleading state investigators about the circumstances of his actions. Immediately after the federal charges were announced, the deputy resigned from the department.
On October 11, 2016, Robin Pearson was reportedly driving home when Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Palmer pulled her over on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle. As Pearson exited the vehicle, she placed her empty hands in the air and slowly approached the deputy’s vehicle.
According to Deputy Palmer, Pearson reached down into her left pocket and appeared to retrieve a dark object when he opened fire. But according to the police dashcam video, Pearson never reached into her pocket and was not holding anything in her hands.
Palmer shot Pearson in the groin for no justifiable reason. She underwent surgery at Central Florida Regional Hospital. Pearson later filed a lawsuit that settled in September 2018.
After the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the shooting, a state grand jury was convened. The grand jury later cleared Palmer of criminal wrongdoing, but he was placed on administrative leave when the federal probe began.
On Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division announced federal charges against Palmer. The deputy was indicted on use of unreasonable force and giving false statements to investigators after the shooting.
Shortly afterwards, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement: “Deputy Sheriff Richard Palmer was involved in a shooting that occurred during a traffic stop while on duty in October 2016. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the shooting and upon forwarding their report to the State Attorney’s Office, a grand jury was convened. Deputy Palmer was cleared by the grand jury.
“A subsequent federal investigation into a potential civil rights violation began shortly thereafter, at which time Deputy Palmer was placed back on administrative leave.
“Deputy Palmer resigned from the Sheriff’s Office today after learning of the indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice.
“The Sheriff’s Office has fully cooperated with all entities involved in the various stages of the investigations and proceedings related to this event and will continue to do so.”
If convicted, Palmer could face up to 30 years in federal prison.