FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Newly released bodycam and surveillance video of a rough arrest earlier this year includes the moment a Fort Lauderdale Police officer is seen beating a tourist to the ground. The man’s lawyer has called it excessive force.
The incident happened outside of The Wharf nightclub on the night of Feb. 21.
Francisco Moore and a group of tourists, who were visiting from Pennsylvania to celebrate a birthday, got confused about the commands from the officers, and that’s when the situation escalated.
“I felt like I was complying 100%,” said Moore.
Moore said he, his fiancée and family members were leaving The Wharf after a dispute inside with an employee. He is seen on camera wearing a red cap and holding hands with his fiancée, Tracy.
“Mr. Moore is clearly saying, ‘We’re leaving! We’re leaving! We’re out, we’re leaving!'” said Moore’s attorney Gustavo Frances. “Then, the officer calls out to Tracy, and Tracy pays attention to the officer.”
The attorney said Tracy is pulled toward the officer while still holding Moore’s hand. That’s when Officer Alexander Paul grabbed Moore’s arm and punched him in the face, knocking him several feet away.
“Officer Paul starts conflict. Officer Paul says in his report that he was attempting to de-escalate the situation,” Frances said.
An officer’s bodycam then starts focusing on Moore’s fiancée on the ground. When the officer moves, Moore is seen back on the ground with Paul and men not believed to be police officers on top of him.
Another officer’s bodycam footage shows Paul blowing punches to Moore’s face, leaving him bruised and bloody.
But the bodycam video also shows a different side of the encounter prior to the physical confrontation. In it, investigators said, Moore is seen using a racial slur.
In addition, according to The Wharf’s staff, a woman in Moore’s party sucker-punched an employee.
The business released the following statement regarding the incident:
“An altercation occurred where a female sucker-punched two staff members of the Wharf Fort Lauderdale. At that time, the group who instigated the assault on The Wharf’s staff was removed from the premises. When Wharf staff began to escort the parties in question off the property, the group became physically aggressive, using racial slurs and threatening language towards Wharf staff, which includes several minorities. Once off property, the Fort Lauderdale Police intervened to arrest the female assailant, charges have been filed against her. At this time, the individual in question continued to be physically aggressive, thus impeding the ability of the police to arrest the person responsible for the assault of Wharf staff members. The Wharf is proud of its hardworking and diverse staff, we do not condone any physical assaults or racist attacks on its staff or guests. The Wharf thanks the City of Fort Lauderdale and its police department for their work in protecting Wharf staff and guests.”
“If you look at the video, you could tell that I was telling him we were leaving, and I still don’t understand why it had to escalate the way it did,” Moore said.
However, newly released surveillance video obtained by 7News showed the hit Moore’s attorney described, but then, it shows people lunging and swinging towards Paul.
“It doesn’t change the major incident, the major fact is that he’s charged with battery on a law enforcement officer,” Frances said, “and that video doesn’t show a battery on a law enforcement officer.”
The lunge and swing came after Paul hit a woman in the group, which he acknowledges in the police report. That’s when Moore ended up on the ground, receiving multiple punches from Paul.
“What we have here is a melee,” Frances said. “I mean, there are at least two officers, two members of security staff, maybe three, maybe three officers, and everybody is on top of him. I don’t see justification for that use of force.”
Paul was also identified in the 2019 shooting of a man at the Fort Lauderdale bus terminal.
Despite all the chaos, Moore’s lawyer said the violence was unnecessary and that the officers knew it.
“Police officers are held to a higher standard. It is their job to enforce the laws. Police officers are not allowed to just beat people because they don’t like what they say. I find it hard to believe that Fort Lauderdale Police calls using your fists de-escalation,” Frances said.
“I feel like he shouldn’t be a cop anymore, like, you supposed to serve and protect people,” Moore said.
The attorney said there is a strong possibility they will sue in this case, and they’re gathering their information together.
Fort Lauderdale Police said Thursday afternoon the February incident is under internal affairs review, as is standard department policy, and the officer remains on active duty and he is not under investigation.
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