Body Cam Footage of Alleged Illegal Search

Staff Report
BRADENTON — Earlier this week, TBT reported that an outside investigation had cleared Bradenton Police Department Chief Melanie Bevan on allegations made by a BPD officer that the chief had made an illegal search. The body cam footage of the alleged event is now available.

On July 14, Bradenton Police Officers were assisting probation officers with the Florida Department of Corrections in serving an arrest warrant on a parole violation. Several BPD officers responded to a residence in the 900 block of 21st Avenue West in Bradenton. Chief Bevan—who had been participating in a ride along with an officer in training—was also on the scene. 

Patrol Officer Hannah Kalchbrenner later filed a complaint, alleging that she witnessed Chief Bevan reach inside the pocket of a bystander outside the home "without any warrant or warning." After having searched the bystander’s pocket, the complainant alleged that Bevan then proceeded to enter the home and began conducting a search of the residence—again without a warrant. Kalchbrenner also said that Bevan ignored the resident's request to vacate the residence if there was not a warrant permitting such a search.

The city engaged retired Judge Gregory Holder of the Zinober Diana & Monteverde, P.A. law firm to review the evidence and decide whether violations had occurred. After reviewing the internal affairs summary, relevant statements, body cam footage, and investigator interviews, Holder determined Bevan had not committed policy violations.

The "residence" in question appears to be a smaller, secondary structure that is part of the same lease as the primary structure. Holder determined that law enforcement had, in fact, obtained permission for entrance from the "tenant" of the residence, including the secondary structure, rendering the disposition of the two people occupying it at the time irrelevant.

As for the search of the male's pocket, Holder determined that this fell within the permissible "temporary detention, pat down, and identification of a potential suspect." Bevan had smelled "the distinct odor of marijuana" and, "noticed a cylindrical object in the male's front pocket" and then "conducted a pat-down search to determine the presence of any potential weapons," having "initially suspected that the cylindrical object might be a firearm barrel." 

According to the report, Bevan then had another officer further examine the contraband in the subject's front pocket, which turned out to be a "lighter or pipe" they determined to be of "no evidentiary value," before returning it to the owner.

Body cam footage of Bevan's interaction with the male's pocket can be seen below.

Reader Comments
SEP 18, 2022  •  If you are going to turn police "reports" and "statements" into a news story, the least you could do is take out the never-ending Copspeak. Crap like "proceeded to enter the residence" really gets on my nerves.