Florida fire captain demoted for taking off shirt, challenging homeless man to fight

A fire captain in Tampa, Florida, was demoted after an incident last year with a homeless man.
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A fire captain in Tampa, Florida, was demoted after an incident last year with a homeless man.

Credit: Jack Taylor

Credit: Jack Taylor

A Florida fire captain was demoted after he stripped off his shirt and challenged a homeless man to a fight, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

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Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Jeremy Finney, 41, who has served more than 15 years in the department, lost his temper with a homeless man in February 2017. The incident caused his demotion from captain to paramedic, the Times reported.

Finney was demoted May 31. His annual salary was cut from $99,590 to $86,786, the Times reported.

On Feb. 4, 2017, Finney was part of a squad that responded to a call involving a homeless man who reported chest pains and appeared to be drunk, the newspaper reported. Finney told investigators that when he tried to help the man stand up, he was pulled to the ground.

Finney said he told the man, “Come on, be a man,” and the homeless man cursed him and exposed himself, the Times reported.

Crew members told a different version of events, noting that Finney exchanged foul language with the homeless man.

“You wouldn’t treat me that way without that badge on your chest. You’re hiding behind a badge and (otherwise I’ll) kick your butt," one crew member said the homeless man said.

Another crew member said Finney pulled off his shirt, then said in a "threatening tone," "Now I don’t have the badge on my chest. What are you going to do?"

The location of the incident was not available in Tampa city records. The man’s identity was not released because of patient privacy laws, the Times reported.

Finney could not be reached for comment.

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