Sunrise Commission Meeting Gets Heated Over Sergeant Who Put Hand on Cop's Throat

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There was a tense back and forth Tuesday at the Sunrise commission meeting as the board discussed the incident involving an officer who put his hand on the throat of a female police officer. 

The November incident was captured on police body camera video. 

The conversation started when Sunrise FOP president Steve Negron went before the board to express concerns about the fairness of the internal affairs investigation. 

Negron had previously sent the commissioners and city manager a letter on the matter.

He referenced public comments made by the department’s chief of police, saying the FOP wants the chief to recuse himself. 

“You have our juror stating that the subject person did certain things inappropriate, disgusting, wrong. And in any trial, if you heard that from a juror you’d recuse him immediately,” Negron said at the commission meeting. 

“I support Chief Rosa’s comments,” said Mayor Michael Ryan during the discussion. “I don’t think they’re pre-judging. I think the issue of having a fair and transparent investigation is important. But the eyes of the nation and what community policing means now is much more about intervention. And there have been too many incidents where if one officer had simply intervened, just did something, lives would have been saved. Careers would have been saved. Communities would not have been burned to the ground.”

However, the conversation took a tense turn towards the end. 

“I just want to say how amazing it is that everyone spun this their own way,” said Commissioner Joseph Scuotto. “But the fact was, a 911 call came over of a piece of s--- beating up somebody. This is how it all started.”

“You’re going to blame the guy who got arrested for this?” asked Commissioner Mark Douglas. 

“No, I’m not. Nobody knows the whole story,” Scuotto responded.

Then things escalated even more. 

“Joey, shut up,” Douglas said.

“Don’t tell me to shut up,” Scuotto responded. 

“I’m telling you to shut up,” Douglas fired back. 

“I’m standing right here,” Scuotto said. “You can do whatever you want to me. You can take this plexiglass down and try to do whatever you want.”

Douglas sent a statement to NBC 6 on Wednesday regarding the exchange at the meeting.

"In (Scuotto's) display of ignorance he is prepared to accuse everyone else of spinning the story, but as a leader of the community, it was not important enough to watch the video by his own admission," Douglas wrote in part. "It is never ever OK, to refer to another human, a member of our community or someone in our police custody as a 'piece of s---.' But as usual, after 25 years as a commissioner in our city, who elected its first minority in 2016 after 56 years, Scuotto is trying to hang on to the good old boy mentality of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and defending the indefensible at all cost as long as it involves 'certain' people for whom he has nothing but contempt."

Scuotto responded to Douglas' statement over the phone with NBC 6 on Thursday, saying that his comments about the person who was arrested "had nothing to do with race."

"My comment applies to anyone arrested for beating a deaf male, a female, a male in a wheelchair, and a senior citizen and all of them happened to be Black," Scuotto said. "Mr. Douglas has the tendency to be a bully. If you look at any of our commission meetings, you can see how he is at the dais. The way he talks to people is the worst you can imagine.“

That Sunrise police officer is also under criminal investigation by the Broward State Attorney's Office. He’s now on paid administrative leave. 

Sgt. Christopher Pullease had already been relieved of supervisory responsibilities and was the subject of the internal affairs investigation following the Nov. 19 incident involving the other officer.

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