The Fort Lauderdale police officer who was caught on video slapping a homeless man who wanted to go to the bathroom, is now facing charges for his brutality.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office just announced that they have charged Officer Victor Ramirez, 34, with two misdemeanor counts of battery as well as one count of falsifying records.
“The officer will now be relieved from duty without pay until those charges are resolved. He will not be working for the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department,” Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said in a statement.
“We’re just obviously very happy that now based upon everything that happened that the state realizes that Bruce is the victim and not a person who should have been charged,” the homeless man, Bruce LaClair’s attorney Steve Rossi responded.
“When you saw what happened on the video and the slap that took place, it’s just really not acceptable type behavior,” he added.
The smack can literally be heard – as well as clearly seen – on the cell phone video which recorded the incident. That video made its way across the web, thanks to police accountability groups like Cop Block which widely publicized it.
Now, there is an internal investigation into the incident, out of which these new charges have arisen.
But many are asking whether there would be an investigation at all if it was all left up to LaClair’s word against the officer’s.
Regardless, Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, declared that the officer’s suspension without pay is meant as a sign that police officer’s accused of criminal behavior will not go unpunished.
“The public is now being told an officer cannot just do what he wants and we’ll continue to protect him,” Holness added.
The video was recorded by an eye-witness to the incident at the Ft. Lauderdale bus depot. They say that it clearly shows Officer Ramirez hitting 58-year old Bruce Laclair.
“I was sitting there on a bench and a police officer came up and started rousing me and said he was going to arrest me for trespassing,” Laclair said in an interview with local CBS4’s.
Ramirez wrote in his police report that Laclair was sleeping on the bus bench.
“I had to go to the bathroom,” Laclair explained, “and he wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom, so the argument stemmed from simply going to the bathroom, that’s all I wanted to do.”
In the video you can clearly hear Officer Ramirez say:
“You’re not going to pee. You’re not supposed to be here, OK? So get up.”
The arrest report also says that Officer Ramirez was working an off-duty security detail at the time.
LaClair’s attorney now says that he has filed a motion to withdraw his client’s original guilty plea to the trespassing charge, as the video clearly proves LaClair’s innocence.
As for LaClair himself, he says that he is “trying to keep a low profile,” as he believes the police will try to retaliate against him for coming forward.
Watch the local report below…
(Article by Reagan Ali)