What to Know
- A Broward Sheriff's deputy seen in body camera footage punching a suspect who was handcuffed to a hospital bed has lost his job.
- Deputy Jorge Sobrino has been fired following an internal affairs investigation into the Jan. 1 incident, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said.
A Broward Sheriff's deputy seen in body camera footage punching a suspect who was handcuffed to a hospital bed has lost his job.
Deputy Jorge Sobrino has been fired following an internal affairs investigation into the January 1 incident at Broward Health North, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony announced Wednesday.
"We cannot allow for a small fraction, that .001 percent of deputies who may step out of line, who may violate policy, to be reflective of an agency of 5,500 employees," Tony told reporters at a news conference. "We're not gonna sidestep these incident when they take place. We will not turn a blind eye and act as though we did not know."
Prosecutors charged Sobrino in June with misdemeanor battery. The allegations stemmed from the arrest of 27-year-old David Rafferty O'Connell on charges of disorderly conduct, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer without violence.
Sobrino's body cam footage showed the deputy with O'Connell at Broward Health North after O'Connell was arrested at a Walmart in Pompano Beach. An arrest report said O'Connell and a woman were arrested at the Walmart after they were suspected of trying to fraudulently return ink cartridges.
In the footage, O'Connell repeatedly said he wanted to leave the hospital, but Sobrino told him that he had to be medically cleared per department policy. O'Connell had his right hand handcuffed to a hospital bed while he waited for a doctor to examine him.
At one point, O'Connell had to urinate and kneeled in the bed to use a urinal. The Broward Public Defender's Office said O'Connell inadvertently spilled urine on himself and the bed and had to re-position himself to avoid the urine.
After that, O'Connell got back on his knees and again said that he didn't want to stay in the hospital and started cursing at Sobrino, the video showed. Sobrino then moved in, punched O'Connell, and handcuffed 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 wrote in the arrest report.
In a letter sent to Sheriff Tony back in April, Broward public defender Howard Finkelstein and executive chief assistant public defender Gordon Weekes said O'Connell didn't push Sobrino in the chest.
"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 read. "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."
Weekes said prosecutors dropped the battery on a law enforcement officer charge against O'Connell on the day trial was supposed to start. The only charge that remained was a resisting arrest charge from the incident at Walmart.
Sobrino, who had been with the department since January 2015, was immediately suspended without pay after the charge was filed in June.