Four police officers in Coral Springs, Florida, are on administrative leave as the department investigates bystander video that shows one officer apparently kicking a handcuffed suspect.
A bystander who recorded the video Tuesday night told WSVN another officer kicked the suspect in the head while the man was sitting on the ground. The man was in handcuffs and was cooperating, he said.
“I could not believe that this was actually happening right in front of me,” the bystander told the Miami TV station.
In the video, an officer kicks at the suspect.
One officer told the colleague to stop, a witness told WPLG.
Man accused of stealing soda and candy
In an arrest affidavit, a detective writes she tried to stop the suspect, Gabriel Narcisse-Beckford, 28, but he ignored her and kept walking. The detective said she tried to grab him by an arm but he pulled away and walked into traffic.
When the detective tried to grab the suspect again, the man took a fighting stance, according to the affidavit.
The detective and an officer wrestled the man to the ground, and the suspect grabbed the detective’s gun but could not get it out of the holster, the affidavit said.
After the suspect stood up, the other officer used his Taser, and Narcisse-Beckford fell down, according to the affidavit. A third officer put handcuffs on the suspect, and then they moved him to a curb, it said.
The detective wrote: “Narcisse-Beckford continued to move his body while agitated which led (another detective) to believe he was attempting to stand up. (The detective) struck him with his knee on his right side to remain seated.”
The report said the suspect told paramedics he is bipolar and has schizophrenia and was not taking his medication.
He was accused of stealing a soda and candy bars.
Two officers had minor injuries, the affidavit said. Narcisse-Beckford went to the hospital because an officer used a Taser, it said, and he was medically cleared.
Chief reportedly upset after watching video
“I wasn’t happy with what I saw,” Coral Springs police Chief Clyde Parry told WPLG after watching the video.
The chief spoke to the officers Wednesday, said Officer Chris Swinson, a police spokesman.
Swinson said none of the officers was wearing a body camera.
“We want our community to know that we take this matter very seriously,” the department said in a statement. Police are working with the state attorney’s office on a criminal investigation, Swinson said.
The department is asking for anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact investigators.
According to court records, Narcisse-Beckford was arrested on suspicion of second-degree petit theft, battery on an officer, resisting an officer with violence, resisting an officer without violence, and obstruction.
He appeared in court on Wednesday, and his bail was set at $2,000.
He was in the Broward County Jail on Friday, and the public defender’s office was assigned to represent him.
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein called the footage he saw “sadistic” and “beyond outrageous.”
“It was throwback as to how mentally ill people have been dealt with for decades,” Finkelstein said.
“There was no need to kick him or hurt him. He was obviously in crisis. This was a gratuitous infliction of pain.”
Finkelstein said it’s not clear whether the case against Narcisse-Beckford will go forward.
“It is our hope that the state will see the higher crime in here in prosecuting the officers,” he said.