More surveillance video released in the case of a Homestead Police sergeant facing multiple charges shows him pepper-spraying a Hispanic man, prosecutors said.
The video shows Sgt. Jeffrey Rome, 56, pepper-spraying the man twice outside Celio’s Latin Quarter Bar, prosecutors said. He then follows him down the street and appears to spray him a third time.
Rome did not talk about the incident the night he got out of jail in early July.
But police union president John Rivera did talk about it Monday. Asked if it appeared that Rome sprayed the man twice and then followed him, Rivera responded, “I will tell you no and here's why. In my training, I’ve been pepper-sprayed – and you will immediately cover your face.”
If the man was pepper-sprayed, Rivera said, he would have fallen to the ground in pain.
“That pepper spray is designed to put you out of commission immediately. That guy was not put out of commission at any time,” said Rivera, who leads the Dade County Police Benevolent Association.
South Florida security expert Wally Philbrick says maybe the officer missed – or it's possible the spray did not work.
"I've sprayed probably 250 people in police training and once in a while, 2 percent, you get guys, you spray them and nothing happens," Philbrick said.
Prosecutors say Rome was involved in several brutality incidents last year, while working off-duty at the bar in Homestead. He faces charges of abuse of an elderly adult, false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery.
In a video released Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Friday, an officer authorities said is Rome is seen walking across the street and approaching a man who immediately falls to the ground.
The surveillance video then shows the sergeant dragging the man behind a car and leaving him on the ground. Rome also appears to pour liquid on the man in the video.
Rome is listed on the PBA’s website as a member of its board of directors.
Union chief Rivera calls the case politics, questioning the timing of the arrests of Rome and two other Homestead Police officers on misconduct charges, as the PBA is not supporting Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in her re-election bid.
“The state attorney has had this video for over a year and a half,” Rivera said. “Why, then, if she had that damaging information, didn't she charge these officers a year and a half back? That’s the million-dollar question.”