USF protesters accused of battering law enforcement officer to enter diversion program

Five people arrested following a protest at USF in March 2023 speak outside the courthouse after they agreed to attend a diversion program to have their charges dropped.

Four students and one employee at the University of South Florida who were arrested following a campus protest will avoid a trial by entering a diversion program. 

According to the State Attorney’s Office, the five individuals were charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and disrupting a school function in March 2023. 

The SAO says Gia Davila, Chrisley Carpio, Lauren Pineiro, Jeanie Kida, and Laura Rodriguez entered the USF President’s office in an effort to disrupt school business following an on-campus protest. 

When officers guided them to leave the premises after repeated requests to exit, the defendants became combative, placing their hands on police officers, according to the SAO. 

On Tuesday, the defendants agreed to enter a diversion program that will last one year. Each individual will also be required to complete community service. 

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The defendants are also not allowed to visit USF campuses during the course of this diversion program, except under specific conditions.

"This resolution brings closure to all parties, ensuring the defendants are held accountable for their actions. University campuses are bastions for free speech and learning, but the moment someone puts their hands on a law enforcement officer, a line is crossed, and consequences must follow," the SAO stated in a press release.

In a written statement, the University of South Florida police shared, "The University of South Florida Police Department is satisfied with the final resolution stemming from the March 6, 2023, incident, where the five individuals involved have accepted responsibility for their actions occurring on that date. It is our hope that all involved can benefit from the grace afforded them by the State Attorney’s office and move on to have very successful and productive lives. We wish them well. At this time, the USFPD would like to take this moment to commend the State Attorney’s Office and its team of prosecutors for their steadfast commitment to ensuring that all defendants were held accountable for their actions and certifying the public trust in protecting our Law Enforcement Officers. Moreover, we appreciate the support and confidence of all involved who worked, looking beyond the false narratives, to seek the truth. Given the frequency with which protests, and other free expression activities occur on campus, officers with the University of South Florida Police Department and their administrative campus partners are keenly familiar with first amendment implications. This incident was never about a group exercising their right to free speech or police action to obstruct the expression of those rights. The arrests stemmed from the group’s aggressive behaviors directed toward officers when we attempted to escort them from the area for repeated refusal to cease disruptive activities. They were offered alternatives to continue the protest in a less disruptive manner, but they refused. Moving ahead, we look forward to continuing our work with critical campus partners, Student Organizations, in furtherance of encouraging others to successfully accomplish their free speech goals in an equitable and responsible manner."