Tasers. The possibilities are endless...

At least he didn't use a gun.

Court Orders Tampa Officer To Stay Away From Neighbors

By VALERIE KALFRIN The Tampa Tribune

Published: Oct 11, 2007

TAMPA - A Lithia man has filed for a temporary restraining order against a Tampa police officer who the man says roughed up his 17-year-old son.

Donald Lunsford, 40, and Cpl. Gene Strickland, 51, live less than a quarter-mile from each other in Lithia. Court papers now order Strickland to stay 100 feet away from Lunsford and his son, Donnie, after Strickland put a Taser against the teenager's neck Oct. 2.

Strickland was off-duty and not in uniform when he caught the teenager and a 15-year-old friend on another neighbor's land, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office report and a taped 911 call.

"I'm pretty upset that Gene used his badge to do that," Donald Lunsford said Wednesday. "I don't want him to put a Taser in nobody else's face. No other kid's face."

The Lunsfords are scheduled to appear before a Hillsborough County judge Oct. 17 to seek a permanent protective injunction.

Meanwhile, Donald Lunsford and his former wife, Rhonda Rutherford, who is Donnie's mother, filed a complaint with the police department's Internal Affairs Bureau on Wednesday, saying Strickland overstepped his authority.

The police department declined to comment on either matter Wednesday, saying detectives are investigating the complaint.

An attempt to reach Strickland was unsuccessful.

Strickland has been a Tampa police officer since 1981. He was demoted from the rank of sergeant last year after the department found he did not report to Internal Affairs sexual harassment and a hostile work environment on a squad he supervised.

Tampa Police Department policy prohibits employees from using police authority "to resolve personal matters" and those of friends, relatives and neighbors unless circumstances justify using self-defense or "a serious offense has been committed."

A sheriff's office report states Strickland confronted Donnie Lunsford and his friend, Jordan Overstreet, about 5 p.m. Oct. 2 on the land, which borders the Alafia River. Strickland "transported" Donnie Lunsford to the ground after he talked back, used one of the teenager's cell phones to call 911 and "detained them at Taser point" until deputies arrived, the report states.

Donnie Lunsford has a cast on his right arm. He is recovering from a July traffic wreck that broke several bones, his father said.

The 911 recording captures Strickland speaking to the teenagers, who lay on the ground for about 45 minutes. On the tape, Donnie Lunsford asks to sit because his injured arm hurts. Strickland tells him on the tape, "Your arm was already hurt."

The sheriff's office issued the teens trespassing warnings but did not arrest them.

The teenagers said they cut behind a neighbor's fence line that night to scout out a fishing spot. Property owner Dorothy Link, 79, said the teenagers did not have permission to be there. Link said her caretaker found some boys on her land recently, but she didn't know whether they were the same ones.

According to Link, Strickland's wife offered to keep an eye on her property. Link said she agreed but told the Stricklands to call her if they noticed anything.

"I didn't give him permission to arrest anyone," Link said.

On the 911 tape, Strickland identifies himself as a city police officer but says he is not in uniform.

"You don't have a weapon drawn or anything, do you?" the dispatcher asks.

"Me, yes. I got a police gun belt on right now," Strickland replies. He says he put on the belt because he was outnumbered.

Donnie Lunsford can be heard yelling on the tape, "You take your job way too seriously."

Strickland replies, "I'm not doing my job. Right now I'm being a homeowner, brother."