Each year in January, the city of Tampa hosts the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. The festival celebrates the legend of a mythical Spanish pirate that allegedly operated near Tampa and has grown into an enormous tradition in the city. The highlight of the festival is the Parade of Pirates, which has become the third largest parade in the United States. The parade is held on the final Saturday of January every year and brings approximately 300,000 revelers into downtown Tampa. It should be no surprise that, with well over a quarter-million partygoers crammed into one place, there are a number of arrests made by the Tampa Police Department.
According to the Tampa Police Department, 11 arrests were made during the festivities on Saturday, January 26, 2019. These included five felony arrests as well as six misdemeanor arrests. The 11 arrests were notably less than the number of arrests in many recent years. Last year, there were 20 arrests made by Tampa PD, with only one of them being a felony. In fact, this year resulted in the second-fewest arrests in the past five years. It was only behind 2017, which only saw eight arrests made all weekend.
Of the felony charges, two people were arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer. The men both struck police officers after they were asked to leave a business. Two others were arrested for felony criminal mischief after standing on top of a police cruiser and damaging the roof. The final felony arrest was for a domestic violence battery. The misdemeanor arrests were primarily alcohol-related and included charges of minors in possession as well as disorderly conduct. An individual was also arrested for obstruction of justice.
Of course, these are only the crimes in which an arrest was made. There are potentially other ongoing criminal investigations, including one by the Tampa Police into an alleged groping incident during the Parade of Pirates. Unfortunately in this case, the alleged perpetrator was wearing a costume, face paint, and sunglasses. This disguise could not only make it difficult for police to make an arrest, it could also result in a false identification.
Despite the arrests, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan considered it a success. "The vast majority of people at the parade were well behaved and had a great time," said Dugan. "Once again, the city put on a great show. A lot of people work hard to make this a safe and fun event. I think the parade goers really appreciate that."
Hiring an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney
It doesn't take much for a fun night to end badly when alcohol is involved. But it's also important to know that in a large crowd, police can make mistakes. Innocent people are arrested after being mistaken by police as a perpetrator of a crime. Regardless of whether you made a mistake or were falsely accused by the police of a crime, attorney Omar Abdelghany can help. To discuss your case with an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney, contact the OA Law Firm today.