Palm Beach Deputies Caught on Video Beating Man
A video uncovered by CBS 12 shows Palm Beach Sheriff's Office deputies beating, tasing, and pepper-spraying an alleged suspect. The deputies say the man resisted arrest after the deputies pulled him over on the night of November 28, 2013.
Of particular note is that one of the officers is Deputy Ernest Cantu, an officer who has been involved in the death of three other suspects in the past, most recently in April, when he shot and killed a burglary suspect during an investigation.
The video surfaces just as news of Broward Sheriff's Office deputies are under investigation for alleged excessive force on a suspect who suffered a broken orbital bone during an arrest.
According to the PBSO arrest report, the officers pulled over a van driven by Shawn Harris, who was allegedly involved in a domestic dispute earlier that evening. The report says Hawkins was uncooperative with the officers at first, refusing to step out of the van after being told to do so several times.
When deputies asked Hawkins if he had any weapons, he handed them a pocketknife. He then became belligerent when they began questioning him about his involvement in the domestic dispute.
Police could also smell alcohol on Hawkins, according to the report.
The officers decided to place Hawkins under arrest. In the video, the deputies are seen tackling Hawkins to the ground to cuff him. According to the report, Hawkins placed his arms under his body in an attempt to resist arrest.
In the video, Hawkins is treated roughly while in cuffs, held down, and shoved into the side of the van. At one point, he's punched several times in the kidneys for no apparent reason.
Police say Hawkins had continued to resist, which is when one of them decided to use pepper spray on him, which can be seen in the video footage.
The pepper spray didn't work, police say. So they tried to taser Hawkins twice. As seen in the video, the pepper spray appears to get into the eyes of the officers, which causes them to scatter.
Toward the end of the video, an officer walks up to Hawkins, who is pinned against the van, and punches him in the kidney area several times.
Deputy Cantu, who recently returned to the force after having been on paid leave for the shooting death of Tinoris Williams, is one of the officers seen in the video.
In April, Cantu shot Williams in the head during a burglary investigation.
According to reports, Cantu had known Williams after having had a separate confrontation with him in 2010.
Cantu, a ten-year PBSO veteran, is also connected to the deaths of two other suspects. In 2009, he was one of three deputies who fired at and killed a man in Lake Worth. In 2008, Cantu hit a man running across the street near Forrest Hill Boulevard. The man Cantu hit smashed into the windshield and was then run over and killed by a taxi cab.
As for Hawkins, he was taken to Wellington Regional Hospital following his arrest and is facing charges of resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer.
Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.