Jose Lambiet's Gossip Extra is reporting that FBI agents seized internal affairs records from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office related to an officer accused of using force 18 times in 14 months.
The feds were looking for records of officer Russell Brinson, who is under investigation for the nonfatal shooting of a robbery suspect in May. Brinson, a 40-year-old with three years in the PBSO, has been under scrutiny for overusing his police authority, especially on minorities.
According to a September report by the Palm Beach Post, Brinson's internal affairs file is a hefty 474 pages, with 18 uses of force in a 14-month period, mostly against blacks and Latinos.
The matter was first brought to light by attorney Jack Scarola, who represents the Guatemala Mayan Center of Lake Worth. The former prosecutor turned defense attorney wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder back in September, complaining of the overuse of force against people of Latino descent in the Lake Worth area.
The letter was prompted by an incident involving 36-year-old Augusto Garcia, a man of Guatemalan descent who called police when he thought he saw two people breaking into his car. When Officer Brinson arrived, an apparent miscommunication led the cop to believe Garcia was the suspect and knock him to the ground before placing him under arrest.
Garcia suffered face and back injuries. He has since filed a lawsuit against the PBSO.
In his letter to Holder, Scarola wrote:
"The growing Hispanic segment of the Palm Beach County community and the Guatemalans among that group of whom Augusto Garcia is a member, view Mr. Garcia's treatment as an outrage.They can recount numerous similar examples of oppression with roots in the prevalent attitude of law enforcement that the Central American residents of Palm Beach County are alien invaders, barely tolerated, presumed guilty of some misconduct by virtue only of their brown skin and their foreign tongues."
PBSO was unavailable for comment. We'll update if it does.
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