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Fla. fire union president arrested, suspended for public urination

Tampa union leader said his arrest was due to the city punishing him for his union advocacy

By Olivia George, Justin Garcia
Tampa Bay Times

TAMPA, Fla. —During his arrest last month, the union president for Tampa firefighters invoked his official position while appealing for officers to let him go after St. Petersburg police watched him relieve himself in a downtown parking garage, according to body cam footage obtained Monday by the Tampa Bay Times.

“Do you know who I am?” Nicolas “Nick” Stocco said to an officer in the early hours of March 24, a Sunday.

“Nope,” replied the police officer.

Stocco did not elaborate, but about 20 seconds later he added: “I would never do that to y’all.”

He soon added: “I work with you guys.”

Stocco, 33, was taken to Pinellas County jail in a police van, charged with one count of disorderly intoxication, a misdemeanor.

He was “clearly intoxicated at the time,” according to a police incident report. Officers noted his slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol wafting from him as he staggered.

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Ten days later, on April 3, the charge against him was dropped, according to Pinellas County Circuit Court records. It’s not clear what changed in the case that led to the dropped charge.

Stocco was suspended on April 5 from his position as a city fire inspector, Tampa Fire Rescue confirmed to the Times. He continues to be the president of Local 754, representing some 750 city firefighters.

“I believed the arrest was unwarranted and expressed that belief to the arresting officers,” Stocco said in a written statement to the Times, adding that he reported the arrest to Tampa officials that Sunday, March 24, and retained counsel to contest the charge. He was not in uniform or on duty at the time of the arrest.

“I have not been accorded any of my due process rights and, apparently, will not be permitted to return to work until I meet their special requirements being imposed,” Stocco said in the statement. “I am convinced that the City’s heavy-handed treatment is meant to punish me for my Union advocacy.”

Stocco is a familiar face at Tampa’s Old City Hall, often pushing elected officials for firehouse renovations and higher pay and expanded resources so the department can keep pace with the city’s population growth.

He continues to receive his annual fire inspection salary of $120,307.20, according to a city spokesperson. The length of the suspension is “dependent on the investigation of the incident,” the spokesperson wrote.

He became union president at the start of last year, a role for which he earns an additional estimated $40,000, according to the city.

Stocco’s arrest shares similarities to a much-publicized 2022 incident involving then-Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor. Like Stocco, O’Connor was a high-ranking Tampa official stopped by law enforcement in Pinellas County. Like Stocco, O’Connor asked an officer if he knew who she was, an appeal that was also caught on body camera footage.

O’Connor told the officer she was the Tampa police chief and asked that he allow her to leave. In body camera footage reviewed by the Times, Stocco did not mention his specific job, his fire union affiliation or his role as its president.

O’Connor was not ticketed. After public outcry over her recorded appeal for preferential treatment, O’Connor was forced to resign.

Video footage of the arrest shows Stocco in a downtown parking garage. There, officers found him urinating on a wall in the early hours of March 24, records show.

“How’s it going?” a city police officer asked, according to body camera footage obtained by the Times.

“Good,” replied Stocco, with his zipper still open and his belt unbuckled.

Stocco, who became the president of Local 754 at the start of last year, says “I’m sorry that I did that” multiple times in the body camera footage. He was handcuffed and led outside to the street, which was thronging with Saturday night revelers.

“So you’re going to put me in this machine?” Stocco said, as he was escorted to a police van. He then suggested that he was important enough that officers should reconsider.

“Do you know who I am?”

“Nope,” replied the police officer.

After it appeared certain that Stocco was going to jail, he became increasingly agitated, asking an officer, “Are you really going to do this?”

“It’s so unfortunate because at the end of the day, I didn’t do anything wrong,” Stocco said.

“Well, you did,” said an officer.

“No, I didn’t,” Stocco replied.

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