POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The Broward Public Defender’s Office is accusing a deputy of using excessive force on a handcuffed suspect.
Broward Sheriff’s Office units were called to a domestic disturbance at a Pompano Beach Walmart back in Jan. 1.
Deputy Jorge Sobrino investigated and subsequently arrested 26-year-old David O’Connell for resisting without violence.
Before being taken to jail, O’Connell was transported to North Broward Medical Center to be evaluated.
That’s where things took a violent turn.
Sobrino’s body camera, which was placed on a nearby table, captured the 26-year-old with one arm handcuffed to the hospital bed.
He appeared to be upset, pointing his arms in the direction of the deputy while shouting.
“Hey, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here. I wanna sign off!” O’Connell is heard yelling. “I wanna sign off!”
Both the deputy and the suspect argue back and forth in a profanity-laced exchange.
The deputy then takes a moment to close the door to the hospital room. As Sobrino comes up close to O’Connell the deputy strikes him.
“I’m not [expletive] touching you!” O’Connell is heard yelling back at the deputy.
O’Connell’s free arm is then put behind his back as he begs for Sobrino to stop.
In an arrest report, Sobrino charged the 26-year-old with battery on a law enforcement officer and claimed that O’Connell pushed him first, and in turn, he felt forced to strike.
Sobrino wrote in his report, “The defendent intentionally placed his hand on my upper chest against my will and pushed me, therefore committing a battery against my person.”
The video, however, appears to show differently, and Sobrino could be heard seemingly admitting to at least one punch.
“Yeah, I just hit you again,” Sobrino could be heard saying in the video.
Prosecutors would later drop the battery charge.
In a letter to BSO Sheriff Gregory Tony, Broward Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes demanded an investigation.
“It shows how brazen and how comfortable he is in using this type of force and that he will use it, even when he knows the camera is running,” Weekes said. “I think it’s very clear that this video shows an abuse of power. He clearly wanted to beat up Mr. O’Connell. What’s even worse is that he then manufactured facts in order to arrest him and charge him with battery on a law enforcement officer.”
An investigation behind the deputy’s actions remains under investigation.
BSO released a statement to 7News Wednesday which read, “Our Division of Internal Affairs immediately opened a preliminary investigation after receiving a letter today from the Office of the Public Defender lodging a complaint about use of force during an arrest incident that occurred back on Jan. 1, 2019.”
Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen also released a statement Wednesday regarding the incident.
“There has to be a zero-tolerance policy for abuse and brutality. This is the second time in less than a week, where videotape shows a BSO deputy abusing his power. I am asking the State Attorney’s Office to open a criminal investigation into this as well,” Bogen said.
“What are you going to do about an officer that engages in lying in an official report?” Weekes asked. “Are you going to allow that officer to continue to police this community? That’s the scary part about having to live in a community where police officers feel so emboldened to use excessive force and justify it by making up facts.”
O’Connell was originally facing three charges but one has since been dropped.
Tony spoke to media about the investigation on Thursday morning saying he will hold those accountable for any violations of policies, protocols or procedures when need be.
“The public needs to understand that we’re consistently saying the same thing. I think the tone is different, the demand is different, but it comes back to accountability overall,” said Tony. “No one is going to get a pass here, nothing is going to be brushed under the table. I’m not interested in protecting people who may have done something wrong. Accountability goes across the board, and I’ve said this time and time again.”
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