TAMPA — U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew sentenced a 57-year-old Largo man to 24 months in federal prison on July 8 for depriving an individual of his Fourth Amendment right to a reasonable search and seizure under 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.

Norman Nicholson had pleaded guilty on March 24, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to court documents, while employed as a police officer with Veterans Affairs in Bay Pines, Nicholson instructed an Army veteran to leave the premises, and the veteran did as asked. Nicholson then followed the veteran outside and arrested him.

According to the press release, “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 handcuffed and in custody, Nicholson rammed the veteran’s head on the fence.”

Nicholson then reportedly used his right hand to pull the veteran’s legs apart, causing the veteran to fall face first into the fence and then to the ground. Nicholson forcefully grabbed the veteran from the ground and lifted him up. While lifting him up, Nicholson used his right hand to grab the veteran from his face and nose.

The press release also says that Nicholson 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.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says, “Those statements were clearly 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.

“The right of individuals to be safe and secure against unreasonable searches and seizures is at the very cornerstone of our democracy,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez. “Officers who violate their oath to uphold that Constitutional right, and falsify facts to impede or obstruct an investigation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”