A Florida sheriff’s office on Wednesday said it had opened an internal investigation after video surfaced showing a deputy punching a suspect who was handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Officer bodycam footage showed Broward County Sheriff Deputy Jorge Sobrino punching David O’Connell and aggressively twisting his arm at a South Florida hospital in January.
Sobrino arrested O’Connell, 26, at a Walmart in Pompano Beach, Florida, while responding to a domestic disturbance report. O’Connell was apprehend on charges of resisting without violence and taken Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach, Florida, for injuries he sustained during the arrest.
That’s when the two got into a heated exchange.
“Hey, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here. I wanna sign off!” O’Connell is heard yelling in the video. “I wanna sign off!”
Sobrino then closes the door, and orders O’Connell, who had one hand cuffed to the hospital bed, to sit down — but he refused.
“Now you’re going to f—ing close the door and beat my ass again,” O’Connell is heard saying. “F— you! Now you think your all big now because you’re a f—ing cop?”
The officer then appears to throw O’Connell’s legs on the bed, punch him in the face and twist his arm behind his back. Sobrino was aware that he was being recorded and he even pointed to the camera at one point after the confrontation.
Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen sad the officer’s conduct was “unacceptable” and called for his firing.
“Unacceptable and outrageous for a deputy sheriff to punch a male who is handcuffed to a hospital bed,” Bogen said Wednesday. “Abuse of power cannot be tolerated. Deputy needs to be held accountable by being fired.”
He said he recommended the State Attorney’s Office open a criminal investigation into the incident.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said it’s internal affairs division opened a preliminary investigation on Wednesday after receiving a letter from the Broward County Public Defender’s Office, which is representing O’Connell.
“He clearly wanted to beat up Mr. O’Connell rather than use some deescalation techniques,” Broward County Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes told ABC affiliate WPLG on Wednesday. “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.”
The video surfaced just days after Broward County deputies were seen beating and pepper-spraying a 15-year-old boy during an arrest outside a Fort Lauderdale high school. The sheriff’s office suspended two officers in connection with the arrest on Tuesday as video of the violent encounter went viral.
That case is also under an internal investigation.