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Tampa Fire Captain disciplined after altercation with woman in New Tampa Lowe’s parking lot

Tampa Fire Department fire station
Posted at 7:54 PM, Mar 18, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa Fire Rescue Captain is disciplined after a 29-year-old New Tampa woman says he almost hit her while driving a marked Tampa Fire Rescue SUV and wearing his uniform.

An internal investigation found Fire Captain Curtis Terrell was acting “Chief” at the time of the altercation on October 26, 2018.

“I waited. There was no cars," said Sierra Pearson. "He just flew out to the left of me and just like, I was like a deer in headlights."

Pearson says she was walking through a New Tampa Lowe’s parking lot at 6201 Commerce Palms Drive on her way to the Dollar Tree when she says Captain Terrell turned into the parking lot, coming within feet of hitting her.

“He just started at me and just started cursing and I was like, you’re wrong. Why are you cursing at me? So then he rolls the window down and he was like, (expletive) (expletive) (expletive). Get out of the road. You should be on a (expletive) sidewalk. And I was like, 'as you can see, there’s no sidewalk,'” said Pearson.

Surveillance video shows the near miss and Pearson walking around and behind his SUV, calling the fire department to complain.

“He’s just creeping through so as I’m walking, he’s looking and I’m like, 'OK, is he following me?'” she said.

Pearson says she stayed in the Dollar Tree for an hour because she was scared.

“I was definitely fearful,” she said.

Captain Terrell gave his account while under formal investigation. He told a fire department investigator and a Human Resources employee on an audio tape, he did not curse at Pearson.

He also told them he was only looking at sheds in the Lowe’s parking lot, not following Pearson.

“I know it scared the crap out of me. I may have said something to myself but I didn’t say anything to the kid,” Terrell said.

“I can’t remember anything I said but I can remember right when I went to swerve, the things that went through my head were, ‘Oh my God, it's a (expletive) ton of paperwork. You hit a kid or whatever,’” Captain Terrell said on the audio tape.

“Did you ever stop to ask if she was ok?” asked a City of Tampa Human Resources representative.

“No, I didn’t hit her,” Terrell responded.

“When you swerved though, if it scared you, did it scare her?” the Human Resources rep asked.

“I don’t know,” replied Terrell.

Pearson says she never heard if or how Tampa Fire disciplined Captain Terrell until ABC Action News reached out to her.

“You have to be a courageous person to be a firefighter and sympathetic and for you to just blatantly just come at me,” said Pearson.

The investigation found Pearson’s complaint “credible.”

Documents show Terrell was “insubordinate,” “breached the peace” and broke rules of conduct including having “conduct unbecoming of a firefighter or an Officer.”

The City says Captain Terrell was issued a written warning.