DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) —Bodycam video of police in Daytona Beach showed an officer beating a suspect with a tennis racket.
The suspect was caught breaking into a car dealership, but how the officer handled the situation is being called into question.
The incident happened back on April 8 when Daytona Beach Police Officers, including a K-9 unit, responded to a Toyota dealership for reports of a man who broke into a car.
Body camera video showed him carrying a tennis racket as officers found him near the service area.
“Police k-9. Get on the ground now or you’re going to get bit,” said an officer .
Despite multiple commands to get on the ground, the man was still standing when an officer sent his canine after him.
“Get on your face now or you’re getting bit,” the officer said.
What happened next is what some are calling excessive force.
“The optics of this are really bad for the department,” said Albert Yonfa, a lawyer.
Just a few seconds after the canine bit the man, the officer starts hitting the man on the head with the tennis racket he was carrying.
“Stop (expletive) fighting the dog,” the officer said.
The police department said it was the safest choice for everyone involved.
They argued that the suspect was trying to choke the canine by wrapping his legs around it, which could have killed the dog.
The officer defends his actions in his own body camera video.
“He was choking out Vezer,” the officer said. “So I broke the racket over his (expletive) head.”
But the suspect’s lawyer didn’t see it that way.
“Was he choking the dog or was he just trying to protect himself from an ongoing attack?” Yonfa said. “Either way, it doesn’t justify by grabbing the tennis racket and beating the suspect over the head.”
More than four minutes later, officers eventually arrested 57-year-old Richard O’Donnell.
He’s facing several charges, including resisting violence with arrest and intentionally causing harm to a police dog
“He can’t comply if one, he’s being attacked by the canine and he’s being beaten over the head by a tennis racket,” Yonfa said. “Clearly, this was a use of excessive force.”
After reviewing the incident report, body camera video and other documents, the department found the use of force was justified.
Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.