Florida Officers Charged in Slapping Handcuffed Teen
Two Florida police officers have been charged in an assault carried out on a defenseless handcuffed teen. The one officer, Sgt. Manuel Regueiro, is charged with battery on the teen while the other officer, Alex Gonzalez, is charged with attempting to delete video surveillance evidence inside the house that caught the alleged battery. The Miami-Dade Police Director, Juan Perez expressed disappointment with the actions of the officers and indicated that their behavior had destroyed their career in law enforcement.
The two officers were involved in an auto theft unit that was investigating a “gang of thieves”. One of the individuals they were investigating was Bryan Crespo whose home they raided. Police believed Crespo was selling stolen airbags.
After the alleged slap occurred, Crespo informed the officers that their behavior had been recorded by the home security cameras. At some point, the police re-entered the apartment and attempted to destroy the footage, but all they managed to do was disconnect the surveillance from the power source. Footage of a neighbor’s security camera shows Gonzalez carrying something in a pillowcase. Investigators later found out that the device was a battery but they claim that Gonzalez believed that the device was a hard drive that recorded the alleged slap on video. The device later vanished.
Lieutenant Suspended with Pay
A Miami-Dade police lieutenant has also been implicated in the cover-up and has been suspended pending an investigation from Internal Affairs. A third officer has been fired by the department for her role in the cover-up.
Additionally, anything recovered during the search may not be admissible. According to department officials, the police never had permission or a warrant to search the house. Nonetheless, they claimed that they got permission from Crespo’s stepfather. Body cam video indicates that they only had permission to search the shed.
An Investigation Gone Terribly Wrong
In the process of searching Crespo’s home, two police officers have been charged with crimes, three police officers have lost their jobs, and one lieutenant may lose his job pending his role in the cover-up. During a time when the police’s relationship with the community remains strained, the department is taking a long hard look at the conduct of its officers.
Meanwhile, the attorney for the defendant charged with battery claims that he slapped the suspect because he believed the defendant was about to spit on him. Since battery is a misdemeanor charge, the officer will likely not face any prison time for the slap. He may have an easier time convincing a jury of that than his partner who attempted to cover for him. Meanwhile, destruction of evidence is a third-degree felony. So his behavior cost three (maybe four) other cops their jobs.
If you have been charged with a crime in the West Palm Beach area, the Skier Law Firm P.A. can help you raise a successful defense against the charges. Contact us for more information.