Florida cop fired for threatening inmates with a Taser and torturing them with McDonald’s fries

Torture by french-fry aroma may or may not be considered cruel and unusual punishment. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

A Florida cop is out of a job after violating what should probably be a common courtesy: Don’t taunt people with McDonald’s fries they aren’t able to eat.

The Sanford Police Department launched an investigation into the conduct of officer Mickey Hinkley after he was accused of taunting two inmates with McDonald’s fries and threatening them with a Taser while they washed his patrol car.

Victor Rivera and Richard Tomlin were being transported by Hinkley from the Seminole County Jail to police headquarters  June 4. When Hinkley went to retrieve them, he entered the jail waiting room with a bag of McDonald’s and pretended to offer it to Rivera, the department’s 30-page report said.

“Here’s your contraband, here’s your food,” Hinkley said, according to Rivera. Hinkley denied ever making those comments and claimed he brought the bag into the lobby to find a trash can.

Rivera reported the incident, believing that Hinkley was trying to get him and Tomlin in trouble by causing them to violate jail rules prohibiting gifts and “contraband.”

The two inmates (also referred to as “trustees” in the report) testified that Hinkley claimed he would put french fries through the grate of his police cruiser so Rivera and Tomlin could smell them in the back seat and fight over them.

Later that day, while the two inmates washed Hinkley’s patrol car, he allegedly got upset that they were using a tire-shine product, according to interviews in the internal investigation. Hinkley removed his department-issued Taser and activated it.

Once Rivera heard the buzzing sound of the Taser, he “flipped out” and tried to run away, the report said. According to Tomlin, Hinkley was laughing and giggling.  Hinkley told investigators he was only testing the weapon.

Hinkley, a nine-year veteran of the police department in the central Florida city, was put on administrative leave after the incident, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He was terminated July 31, the department confirmed Tuesday.

According to WFTV, the Orlando ABC affiliate, “the Sanford Police Department conducted a criminal investigation and recommended assault charges, but the state attorney’s office decided not to charge him.”

A woman who answered the phone at Hinkley’s home Tuesday said he declined to comment.

Julie A. Tate and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this post.

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip



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