A former Broward Sheriff's Office deputy on trial for a misdemeanor battery charge after he was caught on camera punching a man who was handcuffed to a hospital bed took the stand in his own defense Thursday.
Former Deputy Jorge Sobrino testified he was in fear for his safety during the Jan. 1, 2019 incident involving David Rafferty O'Connell.
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.
"As I lifted his legs up, his left arm, his free arm began to come up towards me," Sobrino testified Thursday. "He lifts his left arm up, he places it on my upper torso, and he begins to push against me, what I perceived him trying to push me away from him to to keep me away from him."
Sobrino, who had been with the department since January 2015, was immediately suspended without pay after the battery charge was filed in June of 2019. Sheriff Gregory Tony fired Sobrino in October of that year.
Prosecutors have argued that Sobrino abused his power and was out of line. O'Connell testified at the trial on Wednesday.
Closing arguments were expected on Friday.
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