Ft. Lauderdale, FL — Two Broward County Sheriff’s deputies are currently on a paid vacation while they face criminal charges after brutally assaulting 50-year-old David Gonzales last February.
As we previously reported, the incident was caught on surveillance video at a gas station in Deerfield Beach. Officers Justin Lambert and Mike Manresa approached Gonzalez in front of the store, accusing him of shoplifting. The officers initially claimed Gonzalez “raised his hand” at them, but the video shows otherwise.
Officer Lambert was the first to hit Gonzalez, who fell against the gas station wall, immediately putting his hands out to be cuffed, but was instead grabbed by the back of the neck by Lambert. Both officers then lifted Gonzalez and slammed him face-first into the concrete, splitting his face open, breaking his left orbital bone, and immediately rendering him unconscious.
Gonzalez told Local 10 News
“I’ve never been treated like that in my whole life. That’s not a way you treat a human being.”
Both officers are charged with falsifying reports to make it look like Gonzalez provoked them; Lambert faces misdemeanor battery. Both officers are currently being paid, despite the fact that this is not Lambert’s first brutality offense.
Gonzalez will be filing a federal lawsuit alleging a false arrest and excessive force with the help of his attorneys, Eric Rudenberg, and Mike Glasser.
Defense Attorney Gary Kollin represented another one of Lambert’s victims in a police brutality lawsuit that ended in a settlement of $350,000 against the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Kollin welcomed these charges but stated they’re not enough.
“It’s about time with regard to Lambert, Manresa, and the police here in Broward County that they are facing charges for their misconduct.” Kollin says. “I think the charge should have at least been a felony battery –a third-degree felony instead of a misdemeanor because Gonzalez suffered serious bodily harm.”
Not only are the officers getting a slap on the wrist; they’re getting special treatment throughout the judicial process. The charges were filed quietly on April 24th, with neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the State’s Attorney’s Office notifying the public. Furthermore, neither officer were required to turn themselves in; they were extended the courtesy of a summons, which is not the typical protocol in these cases.
Kollin summed it up perfectly when he said, “It’s wonderful to be a police officer. You get to do wrong and then you get to be paid for doing wrong.”