SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida police sergeant has been accused of bad behavior on duty after he put his hand around the neck of another officer. Now that sergeant isn’t the only one at that department who’s under fire. The police chief is also feeling the heat. Investigative Reporter Karen Hensel is at Sunrise Police headquarters.
The video that we aired first last week has been viewed millions of times. It made headlines across the country and around the world, but here in Sunrise, there is a very local battle brewing over this officer controversy.
Body cam video showing Sunrise Police Sgt. Christopher Pullease grabbing a young officer by her throat has stirred passionate responses on social media with some people calling for the sergeant to be fired or arrested.
Chief Anthony Rosa, Sunrise Police Department: “The initial contact between the sergeant and the officer was his hand against her throat.”
The incident happened Nov. 19, but only came to light after a tip led 7Investigates to ask Sunrise Police about it.
Pullease is seen leaning into the police car where a cuffed man arrested for aggravated battery is sitting. The chief said he aimed pepper spray at the suspect but did not use it.
Suddenly, a 28-year-old officer races towards the sergeant and pulls him by the belt, away from the car. He then grabs the officer by the throat and pushes her against a patrol car.
But now the sergeant’s union is firing back at Police Chief Anthony Rosa, who talked exclusively with 7Investigates in an interview that aired last week.
Karen Hensel: “When he went up and put his hand on her throat, what was your reaction?”
Chief Anthony Rosa: “I find this behavior to be disgusting. I think the video speaks for itself.”
In a letter sent to the city manager and commissioners, Union President Steve Negron wrote: “We are extremely displeased with Chief Rosa’s unprofessional conduct during this investigation.” Adding the chief “has clearly already made up his mind as to the outcome.”
The union demands Rosa “immediately recuse himself from the internal affairs investigation,” and they take issue with this statement:
Chief Rosa: “This officer intervening and stopping a situation from getting any worse is a direct reflection of the training that we do do with the police department.”
Sunrise has a policy requiring officers intervene if they see another using excessive force, but the union claims officers have received “no training” on that policy.
The chief is also taking heat from Broward’s public defender, whose office represents the arrested man, for the investigation not moving fast enough.
In a letter to Chief Rosa, Gordon Weekes said, “410 individuals have pending cases” in their office for “battery on a law enforcement officer” and “all were immediately arrested.”
Gordon Weekes: “And those individuals are not given the same bit of patience. They’re not given the same bit of deference. They’re not scrutinized with respect to whether the facts support the charge or not. If any one of us would have engaged in that type of conduct, we would have been arrested immediately on site.”
Forty-six-year-old Christopher Pullease, who has been with Sunrise Police for more than 21 years, was promoted to sergeant in late 2020.
From promotion ceremony: “Sgt. Pullease has received the medal of valor, the officer of the year award.”
The union taking issue, and tonight the chief taking issue. Late this afternoon, the chief released a two and a half page letter in response to that union letter that he calls “at best inaccurate and at worst seemingly less than honest.”
He said that they did receive that training in 2021 and “were provided direct and specific training regarding de-escalation and their duty to intervene during a class.”
See below to read both letters:
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