A police officer in Clearwater, Florida, has been arrested on charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment after allegedly propositioning a pedestrian he had stopped for jaywalking. The Clearwater Police Department reported that Officer Nicolas Paloma, who has been with the department since 2018, offered to forgo issuing a citation if the victim engaged in sexual acts with him.
The incident unfolded in the early hours of Sunday morning at the Clearwater Beach roundabout, according to Clearwater Police Chief Eric Gandy. Paloma approached a 32-year-old woman who was visiting from out of town and instructed her to enter his police cruiser. The victim complied and took a seat in the passenger side. It was at this point that Paloma made the inappropriate proposition, suggesting that the victim could avoid charges by satisfying his demands.
During their time together, which lasted approximately 30 minutes, Paloma and the victim engaged in sexual acts at various locations. Gandy revealed that Paloma took measures to evade detection by the department, making it difficult to track the patrol car. Afterward, Paloma dropped the victim off a short distance from her hotel.
The allegations against Paloma came to light when officers responded to a dispute involving the victim and her friend. During the argument, the victim disclosed the events that had transpired with Paloma, prompting the police to initiate an investigation. Chief Gandy expressed his frustration at having to address such misconduct, as it undermines the public’s trust in law enforcement. He emphasized the importance of transparency in relaying the facts of the case.
While Paloma does not have a disciplinary record with the Clearwater Police Department, Gandy emphasized the need to determine if there are any other potential victims. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be providing assistance in the ongoing investigation to ensure thoroughness. Gandy condemned the officer’s actions, stating that such behavior is unacceptable within the profession and particularly within the Clearwater Police Department.
This report was originally published by Leilyn Torres at Scripps News Tampa.