FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy is facing a criminal charge after he was caught on camera punched an inmate who was handcuffed to a hospital bed.
On Friday morning, the Broward State Attorney’s Office announced Deputy Jorge Sobrino has been charged with one count of misdemeanor battery.
The announcement comes just days after Sheriff Gregory Tony addressed the media and gave insight into several internal affairs investigations in the department, including one involving Sobrino’s actions.
“We won’t be able to move any faster at this point,” Tony said on Wednesday. “We’ve already put everything we needed to over in the state attorney’s hands because our entire command staff understands how important this is and how vital it is for the community. This isn’t something that we’re going to delay with or something that we’re going to drag out, but the reality of it is, it’s not in our hands anymore. We have to wait until it returns back.”
Footage from Sobrino’s body camera, which had been placed on a nearby table, showed the deputy punching 26-year-old David Rafferty O’Connell at Broward Health North Medical Center on Jan. 2. The law enforcer is also seen bending O’Connell’s arm backwards.
He could be heard in the video saying, “Yeah, I just hit you again.”
“It shows that that officer really was exceeding on his authority and really wanted to send a clear message to that individual that he was in charge,” said Weekes.
O’Connell was arrested after, authorities said, he tried to fight an employee at a Pompano Beach Walmart. He was transported to North Broward Medical Center to be evaluated before being booked.
Deputy Sobrino wrote in his arrest report that the “defendant intentionally placed his hand on my upper chest against my will and pushed me, therefore committing a battery against my person.”
No such push is seen in the bodycam video.
“Our command staff will examine it. It will make its way through its process through the Professional Standards Committee, and once all those things are checked and completed, I will make the decision,” said Tony.
Weekes said he believes this case should serve as an example that no person is above the law.
“They should be held accountable for those actions when they abuse folks within their care, custody and control,” he said.
Sobrino has been placed on suspended leave without pay. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of one year behind bars.
His arraignment has not been scheduled.
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