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Two Cops Suspended for Dumping Drunken Man Who Later Dies

January 18, 1988

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Two police officers were suspended for leaving a drunken man in a park after they learned a detoxification center was filled, officials said Monday.

The man was found unconscious and died three days later.

″Once we take someone into custody, we are responsible for their well- being,″ said Police Chief Austin McLane. ″That didn’t happen in this case. The officers are being disciplined for not following proper procedure.″

Richard Lassiter, 61, was found unconscious in the park last Tuesday night, hours after he was dropped off there. He died Friday at St. Joseph’s Hospital, but hospital and police officials have not disclosed the cause of death.

Officers Kevin Morris, 29, and Mike Nitch, 32, both six-year veterans of the force, were suspended without pay and told they could face dismissal, McLane said.

″When they saw the detox center was full, they should have taken him to the hospital or to the jail and made sure he was OK,″ McLane said.

The chief said the case was still under investigation. A preliminary hearing will be held Tuesday.

McLane said the officers picked up Lassiter after receiving a complaint that he was intoxicated at a restaurant. McLane was unsure what treatment was given Lassister at the hospital, but said he believed the man was injured in a fall from a bar stool at a lounge.

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