[Last updated on May 7, 2020, at 11:30 p.m.]
See full video below, courtesy of Facebook user Unique Occenna
Two Polk County sheriff’s deputies, whose names have not yet been released, are under review after a video clip surfaced that shows one of the deputies punching a handcuffed man in the face.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said they are aware of the video and are taking this matter seriously, however, both deputies remain on the job.
Sheriff Grady Judd, who is typically known for his no-nonsense policies and media transparency, says he does not tolerate the misconduct of his deputies, but shocked Polk County citizens when he told the media Thursday night that he did not feel the need to suspend his deputies — with or without pay.
During a press conference, Sheriff Judd stated that his deputy punched Fernando Jimenez, who was handcuffed, because he had spat on his deputy. However, viewing the video frame-by-frame, it does not appear that Jimenez ever spits on the deputy.
Sheriff Judd also insinuated that HIV and AIDs can be spread by saliva.
He said, “Jimenez spit on the deputy, and nevermind COVID, but was also have HIV, AIDS, and now COVID.”
Jimenez said, “I did not spit on the deputy. They puled up, got out of their car, and immediately pounced on me. You can clearly see that in the video.”
Witnesses in the area said that Jimenez was “lippy” but in no way resisted arrest. Witnesses also said the deputy continued to punch the man once he was placed in the backseat of the patrol car.
Witnesses say that the first deputy to arrive on the scene had instructed Jimenez to leave, but when a second deputy arrived, that deputy became confrontational and escalated the situation.
Tameka Rodriguez, wrote, “I used to support Grady, but lately it seems something in him has changed. He’s looking sick and his attitude has changed. He used to stick up for what is right. Now, he is even being sued by some of his own deputies for breaking the law.” She added, “How can you trust a sheriff who breaks the law and clearly allows his deputies to break the law.”
Ocala Post investigated Rodriguez’s claims that Sheriff Judd is being sued by his own employees, and she was correct in her statements. State records do, in fact, show that employees of the sheriff’s office have recently filed lawsuits. However, the sheriff’s office will not comment on pending lawsuits.
Attorney Rosa Gonzoles, says that the video is clear and that the charges against Jimenez will never hold up in court. She said that what the video shows the citizens is that deputies can abuse their power, make up false claims, and the sheriff will look the other way.
“The law, nor does the Constitution allow for a deputy to terrorize anyone who is handcuffed and compliant, period,” Gonzoles said. “And it certainly does not allow for a deputy to punch a man who is already in the parol car while cuffed.”
She said the sheriff is making excuses for his deputies.
Kari Nacrelli, wrote, “In what video are you watching that shows that man spitting in someone’s face? Because we are clearly not watching the same video.”
Joe Aguilar, wrote, “We the people won’t just take your word for it anymore! We have had enough.”
The man who recorded the video, Unique Occena, was arrested the day after he posted the video to Facebook. More than 10 PCSO patrol cars surrounded his home and ordered him to come out with his hands up. Sheriff Judd said Occena had a warrant for his arrest for aggravated battery, however, Occena denies the allegations and insists that he is being harassed because he “caught the deputies slipping.”
When deputies entered Occena’s home, he was steaming live. The deputies immediately went for the phone, and in the video, immediately began shouting “stop resisting.” Deputies then turn off the recording.
Occena says that as is the case with Jimenez, he never resisted arrest.
Ocala Post requested the arrest affidavit(s) of both suspects and those details will be released when they are made available. Additionally, the body cam video has been requested and might shed more light on the events leading up to the arrest.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Brian Bruchey told Ocala Post that they are looking into the matter and they will release more information as soon as they can.
This is a developing story.
Full video courtesy of Facebook user Unique Occena