Former officer sentenced to jail for striking handcuffed man

Former officer sentenced to jail for striking handcuffed man

A former police officer found guilty of battery for striking a handcuffed suspect in the chest while he was on the ground was sentenced to 15 days in the Bay County Jail Thursday, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Eric Conley, 43, who was fired from the Panama City Police Department following the Nov. 12, 2020, incident, was found guilty at trial Dec. 1. He was taken into custody Thursday to begin serving his sentence, which will be followed by 12 months’ probation.

Lead Prosecutor Bob Pell, standing, with co-counsel Dustin Miller, addresses County Judge Shane Vann during sentencing. The defendant is seated at far left.

County Court Judge Shane Vann granted Prosecutor Bob Pell’s request that Conley be adjudicated guilty and denied a defense request that the defendant be allowed to serve his sentence on weekends. Pell and fellow Prosecutor Dustin Miller presented the case at trial.

Judge Vann also ordered the defendant to pay $800 in fines and complete an Anger Management class before his probation ends.

Prosecutors Pell and Miller presented evidence at trial that showed Conley was on duty Nov. 12, 2020, when he responded to a call and encountered a man who was ultimately taken into custody.

A video, taken by a citizen watching the scene and played for the jury, showed the 41-year-old victim handcuffed behind his back and on the ground beside the rear door of a patrol car. One officer was standing over the handcuffed man, another was in the background, and Conley was shown kneeling down over the suspect.  Witnesses testified that Conley then punched the man while he was handcuffed and laying on his back.

Former officer Eric Conley, left, in dark shirt, gives some of his belongings to his attorney before being taken to serve a 15-day sentence.

The officer who had been in the background, Timothy Manson, is seen on video hurrying toward Conley, grabbing him and forcefully pulling him off the handcuffed man. At trial he testified the use of force was excessive.

Conley was questioned later that day and fired the following day when the city issued an arrest complaint against him for misdemeanor battery. His testimony at trial was that he was trying to calm down a combative suspect; prosecution witnesses countered that the man was handcuffed and not a threat.

 Basford credited the verdict to the thorough case put together by Panama City police and investigator Christopher Nichol, and the presentation of that case by veteran prosecutor Pell and Miller.

For additional information contact Mike Cazalas at or 850-381-7454.