Two Broward Sheriff's Office deputies are under investigation for alleged brutality after a gas station's surveillance video captured them slamming a man to the ground when trying to detain him, breaking bones in his face in the process.
BSO Internal Affairs is investigating deputies Justin Lambert and Mike Manresa for using excessive force, though they claim the man they detained was intoxicated, resisted arrest, and raised a hand at them.
The man, David Gonzalez, admits to being drunk during the confrontation but says he was only trying to verbally defend himself before one of the officers struck him twice before slamming him into the ground. Gonzalez's mug shot shows several cuts and abrasions on his face as well as a severely swollen black left eye.
The incident went down on February 18 at a Texaco gas station on North Dixie Highway in Deerfield Beach. According to the gas station clerk working that night, Gonzalez, 50, walked into the gas station clearly intoxicated.
He began asking for free beer and then began taking candy and liquor from the store. He drunkenly yelled at the clerk before walking out. The clerk then called BSO.
When deputies arrived, they found Gonzalez and immediately noticed he was drunk.
According to the arrest report, the officers wrote, "I smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Gonzalez' breath. He also had bloodshot, glassy eyes and slurred speech."
The report also says that Gonzalez became belligerent toward the deputies, yelling and cursing at them. Gonzalez also walked up to them as he was shouting, according to the report.
"We then escorted Gonzalez to the ground," it says.
The deputies claim that Gonzalez raised a hand at one of them, but the surveillance footage that captured the moment never shows that.
The video does show Deputy Lambert striking Gonzalez as the man leans in toward the officer.
Gonzalez is knocked into the wall and then apparently shows his hands to be cuffed. That's when Lambert strikes Gonzalez again and grabs him by the neck. Both officers them slam Gonzalez to the ground. Gonzalez was also apparently knocked out cold during the altercation.
The blows led to a broken orbital bone for Gonzalez as well as a cut over his eye that required stitches.
Gonzalez was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest without violence.
Cases like this are usually investigated within 24 hours, but BSO claims the paperwork was lost for a short time before it was recently discovered, according to WSVN-7.
"Since force was used, the deputies did a use-of-force report, and from that point, they turned it in to the sergeant," said BSO spokesperson Veda Coleman-Wright, per WSVN. "Usually what happens in these cases, the use of force report would then go from the sergeant after he reviews it, up the chain of command."
According to the arrest report, Gonzalez was also belligerent toward medical personnel who came on the scene to treat him for his wounds. Gonzalez's attorneys, however, say they are preparing a federal lawsuit alleging a false arrest and excessive force.
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