Authorities in Florida say a fellow law enforcement officer was arrested on suspicion of trespassing and battery for an incident at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport this week.
According to WFLA, Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the terminal for Allegiant Airline at about 6:30 p.m. on Friday in response to a disturbance that resulted in 51-year-old Derrick Gilbert being removed from a flight.
The suspect, an off-duty Sarasota police officer traveling with his son, was supposed to be flying to North Carolina.
Instead, authorities say he boarded a flight with bloodshot eyes and reeking of alcohol. He allegedly became belligerent, yelling obscenities to staff at the airport and refusing to comply with their instructions.
At one point, police reports indicate he physically attacked both his son and an airline employee.
The airline contacted law enforcement and described several signals of the suspect’s apparent impairment.
In addition to pushing a 25-year-old employee, airline staff said Gilbert grabbed his son’s neck “in an angry manner” as the latter — identified by the Tampa Bay Times as 18-year-old Tai — attempted to de-escalate the situation.
Upon arrival, authorities informed the suspect that he would face trespassing charges if he did not leave the airport. He allegedly identified himself as a law enforcement officer and claimed they could not take him into custody.
Deputies reportedly proved him wrong when they arrested him and took him to Pinellas County Jail.
Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino released a statement confirming that the agency has “instructed our Internal Affairs Division to conduct a thorough investigation” in accordance with department policies.
Gilbert was reportedly placed on administrative leave with pay following his arrest.
“We hold our officers to the highest standard of both professionalism on and off duty,” DiPino added.
[Featured image: Derrick Gilbert, police handout]