PALMETTO — The Palmetto police officer who was charged last week with pointing a Taser and rifle at his wife and her children has a voluminous disciplinary file, including a recent suspension for pointing a Taser at one of his fellow officers.
Palmetto police officer David J. Filipiak was arrested Friday morning at his police department by Manatee sheriff’s deputies, and charged with aggravated domestic assault with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony.
According to court documents, Filipiak’s wife accused him of pointing his police-issued Taser and his privately-owned AR-15 rifle at her and the two children she has from a previous relationship.
According to the arrest warrant, Filipiak’s wife told investigators he would point the rifle at her or the children and say, “I could kill you or anyone at any time and get away with it.”
Other documents allege he pointed the Taser’s integral red laser at the children, placing the red dot on the children’s chests.
Filipiak was released from the Manatee County jail Saturday after posting $25,000 bond. The Palmetto Police Department has suspended him from his job.
Filipiak, 45, was hired by the Palmetto Police Department in October 2000, after previously working at the Bradenton Police Department as a dispatcher.
The Palmetto Police Department made Filipiak’s personnel file available Monday for review. It shows 14 disciplinary incidents going back to his date of hire, including suspensions, letters of reprimand, letters of counseling, suspensions from working off-duty jobs and an external investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
“When I looked at the file, it certainly seems to have more discipline than virtually any officer here,” said Palmetto Police spokesman Lt. Scott Tyler.
Filipiak did not respond to a request seeking comments for this story. In October of last year, Filipiak was participating in handcuffing training at the Palmetto Police Department. According to an internal investigation report, Filipiak removed a Taser from the holster of a police corporal who was handcuffed and lying on his stomach. He then pressed the weapon into the officer’s side, and “made noises, simulating a dry stun” on the officer. After he pressed the weapon into the officer’s side, Filipiak raised his right hand, balled it into a fist, simulated striking the supine, handcuffed officer and said, “Sometimes don’t you wish you could do that?” According to department policy, deploying a Taser is a reportable use of force. Filipiak was ordered to document the incident but did not comply.
All of the officers who witnessed incident were interviewed. One had significant concerns about Filipiak’s conduct, telling investigators, “First, horseplay during training causes accidents. He also pointed out that the (Taser) is classified as a firearm, and this deployment amounted to a dangerous and improper use of force on Officer Filipiak’s part,” a report states. During a break in the handcuffing training, Filipiak drew his service pistol, which worried one of his supervisors, and complained that the tactical light mounted to the weapon was not working properly.
The internal affairs report states, “Officer Filipiak never unloaded the firearm and this concerned (another officer), although Officer Filipiak did keep the firearm pointed at the floor and did not have his finger on the trigger.” Filipiak received a six-day suspension.
Last year, Filipiak was suspended for two days without pay after he responded to a call at his girlfriend’s residence when she was having custody problems with an ex-boyfriend, and did not tell his supervisors he had been dating the woman for three months.
The incident surfaced after the officer testified on the woman’s behalf at a Family Court case.
The woman’s boyfriend sent a letter of complaint to the police chief and the mayor, alleging that it was common knowledge within the department for Filipiak to become involved with the women he met on calls as an officer.
“This speaks volumes about Officer Filipiak, your department, and your inability to properly supervise your staff,” the letter states.
Other disciplinary incidents include allowing an unlicensed driver to drive home, failing to show up for an off-duty job, driving so fast to an accident as to “create a hazard to the general public as well as the officers involved,” neglect of duty, several conduct unbecoming incidents, and using rude, offensive or profane language with the public. Perhaps the most unusual internal investigation occurred in 2001, when the officer fell asleep while working an off-duty job guarding a tent full of merchandise at the DeSears Appliance store.
Two of his supervisors caught him asleep and decided to stage a mock burglary to demonstrate the importance of staying awake. One of the supervisors had a police dispatcher call Filipiak about a possible theft at his location.
After waking up, the officer moved some of the property back into the tent, and then called his supervisor. When he was questioned, according to the report, “Officer Filipiak lied about what occurred, unaware the burglary was staged by the two supervisors.”
Tyler pointed out that most of the officer’s discipline was meted out by previous chiefs of police.
“I can’t speak for retired chiefs,” he said. “Investigations were complete. It was the chief’s decision whether to terminate or not.”
Since last week’s arrest, Filipiak was relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave by the Palmetto Police Department, pending the disposition of his criminal charges and the conclusion of an internal investigation by his department.
“We will go through a rigorous inquiry into his behavior,” Tyler said. “Certainly Chief (Rick) Wells will make a decision whether he will continue as a police officer here in the city of Palmetto, based upon our investigation and the conclusion of his criminal case.”