Sarasota, Florida - Momentum or brutality-you be the judge.
A video captured by a downtown Sarasota camera shows interaction between a homeless man and a police officer on October 6th. The confrontation, in which Roger Fieldshit a wall, left himwith a deep gash in his head.
On Thursday night a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union said she was not surprised by the video, because it just helps illustrate a long-standing police problem. "It's horrific, but it's not shocking," said Andrea Mogensen.
In one report, Officer Derrick Gilbert explains it this way. He says that while he was trying to bring a resisting Fields to the ground, "The subject's momentum carried him into a metal cornered edge wall".
But whenMogensen views the tape shesees abuse.
"I gasped out loud when I saw it, because it seemed clearly excessive," she said.
It was just Tuesday when ACLU members held a press conference in Sarasota outlining what they say is a pattern of homeless harassment by police. They cited outlandish arrests, like a man sent to jail for charging his cell phone in a park. And text messages where officers called themselves "bum hunters". And now this video surfaces.
Mogensen says mistreatment was bound to happen, because city leaders pressured police to solve a social issue.
"We need a different approach to this problem. Applying police power to the homeless problem is not working," she said.
The video starts with a bus system security guard trying to get Fields to leave the property. The guard says Fields had been drinking, using profanities and, at one point, even spit in his face.
But does rude behavior give a police officer enough to apparently hurl a man into a wall? It's quite possible the city could find out in court.
After viewing the tape, Sarasota's city manager ordered an internal affairs investigation and Officer Gilbert has been placed on administrative leave.