It never crossed the minds of the Florida cops beating Christopher Butler that perhaps he may be suffering a medical episode.
Instead, they just assumed the naked unarmed man who was not violent was on drugs – as if that somehow made it more justifiable.
Video footage from a police dash cam as well as from a witness show Butler was moaning and not responding to barking orders from cops to get out of the car after leading them on a slow-speed pursuit.
It also shows St. Johns County sheriff Anthony DeLeo tasering and kicking him because he would not lie facedown in the ground.
The incident took place on December 29 after a Florida Highway Patrol officer attempted to pull Butler over on Interstate 95 because he was driving very slow and erratically. Dash cam footage shows Butler continued driving for more than eight minutes after the cop first tried to pull him
Butler never exceeded 15 mph as DeLeo then joined in the pursuit, forcing Butler off the interstate into a Winn Dixie parking lot where the beating took place.
Deputies initially accused him of being on PCP but his family and lawyer say he was suffering a diabetic episode and have the evidence to prove this.
The only reason the incident was investigated was because the man who recorded the video tracked down Butler’s mother and gave it to her. She then began questioning why they had to beat her son if he was not acting violently.
DeLeo, who has a history of police abuse, was fired in March for his actions. St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar also recommended charges of aggravated assault be filed against him at the time.
It took four months, but the State Attorney’s Office finally charged the former deputy with aggravated assault last week. DeLeo turned himself in on Wednesday.
According to News4Jax:
Video of his arrest, captured by a witness and a state trooper’s dash camera, shows that over a nearly four-minute span DeLeo hit Butler 19 times with his baton, and kicked him in the head twice, while Butler was sitting on the ground offering little resistance.
After DeLeo hit and kicked Butler, minimal effort was made to handcuff Butler, according to a warrant affidavit.
“Based on the actions of (DeLeo), the gratuitous amount of force applied and the extent of injuries sustained by the victim; probable cause was established for the charge of aggravated battery,” the warrant affidavit stated.
After he was pulled over on County Road 210, a witness captured what happened next on his cellphone and shared it with Butler’s family. Teri Morgenstern, Butler’s mother, shared the video with News4Jax.
In the video, Butler can be heard screaming and moaning when he was shocked with a Taser several times. Later in the video, DeLeo comes at him with a baton.
“They beat him like he was nothing. Like he wasn’t a human being,” Morgenstern told News4Jax.
Police initially charged Butler with two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, fleeing and DUI but as of now, court records indicate all charges have been dismissed except fleeing, which is a felony.