A police officer in Homestead, Florida is facing criminal charges after he was caught on surveillance video shoving a handcuffed suspect into a cinderblock wall. Officer Lester Brown can be seen pushing the man face-first into the wall, causing a bloody facial injury, according to police.
The December 2018 incident occurred after Brown and other Homestead police officers received a call about a drunk man causing a disturbance. The suspect was taken into custody and charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest without violence, CBS Miami reports.
At the police station, the man was taken into a booking room, where surveillance video captured Brown shoving him into the wall, his head smacking against he concrete. The man falls to his side, and a stream of blood starts running down his face.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle accused Brown of misrepresenting what happened that night. Brown claimed he heard a commotion while officers were bringing the suspect into the station, and wrote in his police report that the suspect fell because of a struggle between them.
"Officer Brown's actions were not only improper, but they were crimes," Rundle said. "It's really heartbreaking because no matter how hard we all try to build confidence in our community, between community and police so that we can solve crimes, so that they'll come forward with information, with tips, you know, this sets us all back."
A full investigation into the incident was ordered and Brown was relieved of duty without pay. He is now facing felony battery and official misconduct charges as well as termination. He had been a booking officer at the department since 2007.
"The arrest of Lester Brown is very disappointing, and overshadows the work of the dedicated men and women of the Homestead Police Department, who serve and protect our community every day. Police officers have a legal responsibility to abide by all laws and Lester Brown's arrest demonstrates how seriously our police department takes that obligation," a statement from the Homestead Police Department read in part.
Homestead Police Chief Al Rolle spoke about the incident at a news conference with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. "Homestead is a small department, a small community, but we're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior from one of our police officers. We never have, and we never will," Rolle said.
Brown is currently suing the city for discrimination, claiming that he was passed over for promotions because he is missing two fingers.
"We'll see him in court. We feel very comfortable with our charges," Rundle said.
Brown's attorney, C. Michael Cornely, told CBS Miami that he felt the chargers were "overkill" and "vindictive" and that the case should be handled administratively.
Cornely said it is "not a good season to be a police officer" and that he's disappointed in the state attorney. "I believe this officer believed the man was a threat to him and he had to make a split second decision to put some space between him and the prisoner."
The Miami Herald reports Brown was suspended for eight months following another incident of excessive force in 2016, when he reportedly was caught on surveillance video slapping a woman who was handcuffed.