Tampa, Florida – Norman Nicholson (56, Largo) today pleaded guilty to one count of depriving an individual of his Fourth Amendment right to a reasonable search and seizure under the color of law and one count of knowingly making false entries in a report with the intent to obstruct an investigation within the jurisdiction of a federal agency. Nicholson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 24, 2020.
According to the plea agreement, while employed as a police officer with Veterans Affairs in Bay Pines, Florida, Nicholson instructed an Army veteran to leave the premises and the veteran complied. Nicholson then followed the veteran outside and arrested him. In doing so, Nicholson swung the veteran around, and placed both of the veteran’s hands behind his back. The veteran did not resist the arrest and moved his left arm behind his back on his own. After the veteran was already handcuffed and in custody, Nicholson used his left hand to shove the veteran’s head against the fence. He then used his right hand to pull the veteran’s legs apart, causing him to fall face first into the fence and then to the ground. Nicholson then forcefully grabbed the veteran from the ground, and lifted him up. While lifting him up, Nicholson used his right hand to grab the veteran by his face and nose.
Nicholson then authored two arrest affidavits and a police report in which he made numerous false statements regarding the incident. Specifically, Nicholson stated that the veteran “refused to leave the property…became resistant…pulled away…raised his hand in an aggressive posture…did not obey commands to stop resisting…resisted on the ground…and buckled his knees in an attempt to make himself dead weight.” Those statements were false, and were made with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence a matter that was within the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
As a result of this arrest, the veteran spent several days in custody at the Pinellas County jail.
This case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diego F. Novaes.