Suspect Arrested For Resisting Arrest With Violence
On Tuesday, April 10, 2018, the Lakeland Police Department was notified about a social media post showing two police officers in a struggle with a subject near the 98 North and Interstate 4 access ramp.
At approximately 4:20 p.m., Officer J.R. West observed a male lying on the side of US Highway 98N under the Interstate 4 overpass. Officer West stopped to check on the safety of the male, identified as Justin Abbott, age 38, who was found to be sleeping. Given the dangerous location of the interstate access ramp and the agreement between the City of Lakeland and the Department of Transportation, West gave Abbott a trespass warning and informed him he would be required to leave the area. During this exchange, Officer Anthony arrived on scene to assist.
Officers West and Anthony attempted to get the subject to leave the property several times and he refused. Abbott was then informed that he was under arrest for trespassing. As officers attempted to arrest Abbott, he began actively resisting. Officers West and Anthony tried to physically restrain and handcuff Abbott who continued to physically resist their efforts. During the struggle, Abbott pushed Officer Anthony, who fell to the ground while still holding on to Abbott. The momentum caused Abbott and Officer West to fall to the ground as well. As Officers continued to struggle with Abbott, Officer
West deployed his Conducted Electricity Weapon (CEW), commonly known as a Taser, to gain control of Abbott. The device was ineffective and Abbott continued to resist. After a second attempt to deploy the ECW, Officer Anthony observed Abbott grab Officer West’s CEW.
Seeing Officer West struggling to regain control of his CEW, Officer Anthony struck Abbott several times before he was finally taken into custody.
Abbott was taken to Lakeland Regional Health, as standard procedure when an ECW is deployed. He was found to have no treatable injuries. Both Officers West and Anthony received minor injuries and were also treated at Lakeland Regional Health.
Abbott, age 38, was charged with Trespassing and Resisting with Violence, and later transported to the Polk County Jail.
As with all use of force cases, a thorough administrative review is being conducted by the chain-of-command.