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St. Johns County, FL — At least three St. Johns County deputies have been placed on administrative leave after cell phone video surfaced of them savagely beating Christopher Butler. Predictably, police were quick to determine Butler was high on PCP but his lawyer says he was suffering from a diabetic event and was not able to follow police officer commands.

Butler was booked into the St. John’s County jail and is still being held on resisting arrest and felony assault on a police officer charges. His mother decried the way the men who were supposed to protect and serve her son treated him. Teri Morgenstern claimed:

They beat him like he was nothing. Like he wasn’t a human being.

The incident began 12/29 with Butler being observed driving 15 mph on I-95, the interstate with minimum speeds set at 55mph. A Florida Highway Patrolman (FHP) made the stop but requested backup after he was unable to get Butler to exit the vehicle. A passerby then witnessed the beating and stopped to record. That Good Samaritan later passed his cell phone videos on to Ms. Morgenstern, Butler’s mother, who contacted the news media.

Butler’s mother noted:

They kneed Christopher in the face and punched him in the face inside the car...And our video shows once they had him on the ground they started kicking him in the face. They beat him so many times with the baton. They kept punching and my kid ended up at the hospital in critical care.

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Butler’s lawyer claims the beating was the "worst he’s ever seen" and says it doesn’t matter whether or not his client was on drugs or not, no one deserves to be treated inhumanely. John Phillips, the family’s attorney, said his client did not deserve to be treated that way:

It’s just so abusive and it just goes on for so long...They just kicked him and used a baton and tased him over and over...He was not high on PCP and any statement to that effect is going to result in defamation...He was having, as we understand it, a diabetic or blood sugar event throughout the course of this. Regardless, even if he was hopped up on whatever, you can’t just beat somebody because they’re high on drugs.

But cops do just that. They often mistake health problems with drug use and then justify their beatings by claiming the suspects were “not following lawful orders.” As TFTP has reported on numerous occasions, federal use of force guidelines permit officers to escalate their uses of force for non-compliance. Such use of force can include, closed fist strikes such as Butler received while appearing to be seated on asphalt, hardly a threat to anyone.

If the police were not successful in getting Butler out of the vehicle they would have been justified with sending a K9 through the window, as we’ve seen before. There’s no limit to the extent law enforcement will go to subdue a suspect, including tasering a suspect to death, beating someone to death, choking someone to death, and/or running a suspect over with a moving vehicle.

We’ve seen it all folks. It’s not the first time citizens who were allegedly having a medical emergency have had their rights violated by raging police officers. For more information on rights violating police officers, see our police brutality archives. police brutality archives. 

Butler’s lawyer implied he and his client intend to sue for civil rights violations and defamation of character for the beating and subsequent blaming the victim by stating he was high on PCP.