The Riviera Beach Police Department says it's investigating an officer after a video surfaced of the cop getting into a confrontation with a disabled veteran.
The video, shot on Sunday with the man claiming to be a disabled vet's cell phone camera, depicts Sgt. Gary Wilson walking up to the man, who had parked in a handicap spot at a Walgreens parking lot on Blue Heron Boulevard in Riviera Beach. The man tells Wilson he has a handicap permit, but the officer refuses to believe him and accuses the man of not being disabled since he's not using a wheelchair to get around.
“You’re walking; you’re not handicapped," Wilson says in the video. "Someone else should use this space.”
The two men get into a verbal confrontation when suddenly Wilson seems to lunge toward the man. It's not clearly seen on the video, but it appears the officer slaps the man's cell phone. The man tells Wilson that his camera is damaged after the incident.
The man begins to
The man then tells Wilson that he served twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan and that it's not the officer's place to determine whether he's disabled.
"Just so you know, there's three screws in this leg right here," the man tells Wilson. "Traumatic brain injury. All that shit from getting blown up and shot at."
The man adds, "Just because I don't look like a disabled person doesn't mean I'm not disabled. You don't get to decide that. Uncle Sam says I'm 90 percent disabled for the rest of my life. That's how it works. Ten years of serving my damn country. You don't get to decide that."
Word of the video quickly spread throughout social media, and people took to the Riviera Beach Police Department's Facebook page to vent their anger toward Wilson's actions against the man.
People also tweeted at the department over the incident:
.@RivieraBeachPD Train your officers better. There are many people that have invisible disabilities. That cop's behavior was appalling!!— EllenBeth Wachs (@BlameEllenBeth) August 10, 2015
@RivieraBeachPD What are you going to do with this "officer"? His hatred for disabled veterans is obvious! Time for him to GO!— VetWarriors1 (@VetWarriors1) August 11, 2015
@RivieraBeachPD 'Internal investigation' = a catch-all term for 'we hope you all forget about it' WATCH VIDEO police arrogance is real old— We The People (@AllAboutHelp) August 11, 2015
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The Riviera Beach Police Department says it's launched an investigation of Wilson, saying in a statement, "We, as an organization, share the same gratitude and respect for Veterans. We support Veterans and appreciate their commitment to serve our country. Although the department has not yet received an official statement regarding the incident in question, an Internal Affairs Investigation is already in effect."
Ironically, back in March, the department put out a call for veterans who were interested in joining the force:
The Riviera Beach PD says it will determine whether Sgt. Wilson will be disciplined once it concludes its investigation.