Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick says all he wants is a fair investigation.
Reddick filed an internal affairs complaint Tuesday against Vincent Gericitano, the president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association. The complaint is in reference to the throat-slashing gesture that Reddick maintains Gericitano performed at last week’s Council meeting, after Reddick’s name was mentioned as the Council was voting on who their chairman would be for the upcoming year.
The council went through 13 different ballots before ultimately choosing Councilman Mike Suarez. Reddick and Councilman Harry Cohen were also in contention until the final ballot.
“I don’t believe in accusing of anyone of doing something wrong,” Reddick said on Wednesday. But he said that he saw Gericitano make the gesture, and said that there are policies against such gestures according to the Tampa Police Department’s manual of regulations.
“So I decided to have an outside agency that cover police officers look at it and if they feel there’s enough evidence to prove that what I said is correct, we can move on it,” he said.
Reddick is the only black member of the council. He was selected council chairman in 2015, and announced weeks before the 2016 vote that he was interested in remaining in charge for another year.
Reddick’s 2015 victory was considered an upset, as he defeated Charlie Miranda, who had served the previous four years as chairman and was said to have been the pick of Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Before the 2015 vote, Reddick had suggested that the council rotate the chairmanship every year. That idea died out without a vote, but Reddick accused his colleagues of hypocrisy during last week’s meeting after Miranda suggested that the idea was worth revisiting, as they continued to repeat themselves in vote after vote.
Reddick said on Wednesday that the implication was that he should not be on the council in the event that Mayor Buckhorn were to depart the seat within the next year. Such a possibility exists with rumors of the mayor being selected to serve on a presumptive Hillary Clinton administration, should the occasion arise.
“They didn’t want me to be in the position of being that de facto person that replaced the mayor,” Reddick says. “I had already given the indication that I would not run for mayor, so what this has done is built us some strong opinions about how things operate in the city of Tampa,” adding that “if the mayor was smart, he’d come out and condemn this type of behavior.”
Last week’s vote for a new council chair was a painstaking process that lasted more than half-an-hour. On the 14th and final round of voting, Reddick claims that he saw Gericitano make the cut-throat gesture to the seven members on the council. Reddick certainly noticed something, and called him out immediately.
“When I observed that it shocked me,” Reddick says. “It was just a quick reaction on my part, and I didn’t expect that, not in this day and time. We don’t expect that type of behavior.”
There’s certainly no love lost between the PBA and Reddick. The PBA objected to the need for police citizens review board last year that Reddick championed on the council. The councilman recently appeared at a news conference with activists who are trying to get a charter amendment change in Tampa so they can give that board more teeth, including subpeona power.
Gericitano has not returned our call for comment. He has denied making the gesture.