Formal charges of two counts of misdemeanor battery and falsifying police report filed by State Attorney announced
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
Special to the NNPA from The Westside Gazette
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Police Chief Frank Adderley has been a constant force in trying to maintain the integrity of his department after recent incidents of police misconduct.
One of the most recent was the three police officers who were fired and a fourth resigned over the exchange of a “racially biased” video and messages, according to officials.
Just recently, administrative action included the termination of Chris Sousa, James Wells and Jason Holding, as well as the resignation of Alex Alvarez.
“I just hope that the people in the public realize that we’re not going to tolerate it, and that anyone that’s engaged in this behavior, it’s going to be addressed immediately,” Adderley said.
An internal affairs investigation that lasted over five-month found the officers had exchanged text messages using ethnically attacking terms in reference to African-American citizens that they face in their line of duty.
Investigators also included a mock video trailer called “The Hoods,” which featured images of a Ku Klux Klan hood and President Barack Obama with large gold teeth created by Alvarez.
Now, the latest incident concerns Victor Ramirez, 34, a police officer who slapped a homeless man.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office has filed three misdemeanor charges against Ramirez who was caught on cell-phone video slapping the homeless man in his face.
The three misdemeanor charges against Ramirez were: two counts of minor battery and one count of falsifying records. Ramirez was placed on administrative leave with pay when the video surfaced. He has been with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department for nine years and has no disciplinary past. Of the three prior discourtesy complaints lodged against him, none were sustained.
“We haven’t receive the formal documents yet, but, once received Ramirez status will be changed from suspended with pay to suspended without pay”, stated Chief Adderley.
A bystander, who witnessed the Feb. 22 incident at the downtown bus terminal, recorded it and posted it to YouTube. An immediate news conference follow, with the city manager calling the incident “disturbing” situation. Chief Adderley in maintaining his credibility with the community promised a thorough investigation.
The video shows Officer Ramirez hovering over Bruce Laclair, 58, sitting on the ground and slapping the Laclair across his face.
“I’ll push you down to the ground, and I’ll beat you up if you f——— try to fight me. That’s what’s going to happen,” Ramirez can be heard threatening to beat the man up.
In his report about the encounter, Ramirez wrote that he struck Laclair, 58, after he fell to “distract [him] and keep him from grabbing me. “Ramirez said that when he awoke Laclair and asked him to leave, Laclair swore at him. While escorting Laclair out of the terminal, Laclair “pulled away from [me] in a violent manner. I reacted by pushing Laclair away from me to keep him from attacking me,” Ramirez wrote.
Laclair was arrested and charged with trespassing.
Chief Adderley continue, “This is a clear indication that our process is design to be transparent. We have an outside investigation lead by the state attorney’s office that is making a decision whether to prosecute or not to insure the public trust.”