‘Extremely intoxicated’ Fort Lauderdale officer brawls with hotel security while holding baby

Larry Barszewski Sun Sentinel

Police Officer David Knapp doesn’t remember how he wound up in a private area of the Ritz-Carlton beach hotel parking garage with his infant child in his arms — or the fight he started with a security guard who questioned what he was doing there.

Knapp, 33, who was off duty and described as “extremely intoxicated” during the Oct. 20 event, is facing a 20-day suspension without pay for actions unbecoming a police officer and conduct prejudicial to the good order of the department.

According to an internal police investigation, Knapp was stumbling around the parking garage after a day at the beach with his wife and child. The couple shared a bottle of champagne at Coconuts Restaurant in the afternoon, shopped at Beach Place and then stopped off at the Ritz-Carlton bar, where Knapp had three Johnnie Walker Black Label drinks.

Knapp took his child with him to the bathroom and wound up in a restricted portion of the hotel’s parking garage. A valet spotted him about 9 p.m. and notified security.

Knapp refused to answer loss prevention officer Fernando Ramirez’s questions, flipped him the bird and then struck him twice in the face — all while holding his child — when Ramirez continued to request identification from Knapp, investigators said.

“When Officer Knapp struck Mr. Ramirez a second time, Mr. Ramirez grabbed the child from Officer Knapp’s arms, to prevent the child from falling, and took Officer Knapp to the ground,” Major Karen Dietrich said in the Internal Affairs report.

“During the physical altercation, Officer Knapp’s off-duty weapon flew out of his holster and landed on the ground,” Dietrich said.

It wasn’t until Knapp had been subdued and Ramirez checked for identification that he discovered Knapp was a police officer. While Ramirez held Knapp down, other hotel employees who arrived took care of the child, whose age and gender were not released.

Knapp’s wife was unaware of what had happened, unable to reach him by phone and wondering why he hadn’t returned from the bathroom when hotel personnel brought the child to her.

Knapp, who suffered head injuries during the altercation, told investigators he had no recollection of the incident. When asked why, Knapp said, “It could be anything from being tired to being, uh — having had alcohol to having unfortunate injuries due to the event.”

Ramirez declined to press battery charges against Knapp and prosecutors decided not to press the case because they said the evidence showed Knapp was too drunk for them to prove he intentionally struck Ramirez.

Knapp, a patrol officer, was hired in October 2007 and earns $81,474 annually. He told investigators he was embarrassed by the situation and “I’ve never been like that before.”

Investigators were unable to determine how Knapp’s gun came out. However, witnesses said they never heard Knapp make any threats or saw him make any movements toward his gun.

The suspension recommendation will be reviewed by the Citizens Police Review Board on Aug. 29 and then go to City Manager Lee Feldman for a final determination.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fort-lauderdale/fl-lauderdale-intoxicate-officer-suspended-20160822-story.html?platform=hootsuite

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