The Broward County Public Defenders Office is accusing Broward Sheriff’s deputy Jorge Sobrino of excessive force for punching a suspect who was handcuffed to a hospital bed.
It happened on January 1 after Sobrino arrested 27-year-old David Rafferty O’Connell on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting an officer without violence and battery on a law enforcement officer.
The video shows deputy Sobrino with O’Connell at the Broward Health North Hospital after O’Connell was arrested at a Pompano Beach Walmart.
O’Connell, along with a woman, were arrested at Walmart after they were suspected of attempting to return ink cartridges fraudulently, according to NBCMiami.
In the video, footage shows O’Connell repeatedly saying he wants to leave the hospital, but deputy Sobrino tells him department policy says he has to be medically cleared before leaving.
O’Connell’s right hand is cuffed to a hospital bed as he awaits a doctor to examine and clear him.
Eventually, O’Connell has to urinate and kneels down in the bed to go in a bedside hospital urinal.
However, O’Connell inadvertently spilled urine on the bed and himself and he had to move back to his knees to avoid the urine.
O’Connell then starts cursing at Sobrino and says he wants to leave the hospital.
That’s when Sobrino comes over to O’Connell, punches him, and handcuffs his other arm to the bed.
“While awaiting medical clearance, the defendant began yelling inside the hospital and attempting to stand from his hospital bed. When attempting to seat the defendant down on the hospital bed and further restrain him, the defendant intentionally placed his hand on my upper chest against my will and pushed me, there for [sic] committing a battery against my person,” Sobrino lied in the arrest report in order to press charges against O’Connell.
Howard Finkelstein, a Broward public defender, along with assistant public defender Gordon Weekes said O’Connell never pushed Sobrino in the chest in a letter sent to Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony this week.
“Deputy Sobrino’s version of the incident vastly differs from the facts as displayed in the video. The video shows clear police abuse,” the letter says.
“Deputy Sobrino punched Mr. O’Connell in the face without physical provocation because he was frustrated with Mr. O’Connell. Punching a restrained individual who is not physically aggressive is unacceptable.”
Finkelstein and Weekes insist deputy Sobrino fabricated his police report, and want an investigation into the matter and charges of battery and falsifying a report filed against deputy Sobirino.
“It’s clear that he exceeded the level of force that was necessary by punching him in the face,” Weekes said in an interview with NBC Miami.
“But when he then went and arrested him for battery on a law enforcement officer, when there were no facts to suggest that the battery had occurred, he was then trying to protect himself from his own wrongdoing.”
Since the video surfaced, prosecutors dropped the battery on a law enforcement charge against O’Connell, although he still faces a resisting arrest charge from the incident at Walmart.
Deputy Sobrino, who has worked for the department since 2015, remains on duty but is currently under a a ‘preliminary internal affairs investigation.’
“Our Division of Internal Affairs immediately opened a preliminary investigation after receiving a letter today from the Office of the Public Defender lodging a complaint about use of force during an arrest incident that occurred back on Jan. 1, 2019,” Veda Coleman-Wright, BSO spokesperson, said in a statement on Wednesday.