Broward County, FL -- The deputies of Broward Sheriff's Office in Florida have created a terrible image of themselves over the past several years. From cowering behind a wall while children were murdered in a school to sexually assaulting children to torturing people with their K9s, the department has tarnished the image of public servants everywhere. Now, as yet another disturbing video shows, we can add 'beating people chained to a hospital bed' to the list. But the city has had enough and now they are charging these bad cops — and firing them.
In July, the Broward State Attorney's Office announced that they had charged Deputy Jorge Sobrino on one count of battery for his sadistic act caught on video. Then, this week, after waiting nearly 4 more months after he was charged, Sobrino was finally fired by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony in an effort to maintain transparency and accountability.
The sheriff said they were notified by the public defender’s office of a potential violation of policies related to the use of force.
“I thank the public defender’s office for actually bringing this to my attention. As I had just took command and this occurred before I was actually the sheriff. We instituted and launched an internal affairs investigation. There were cries from the public to ensure that justice was held and that we did not allow for any type of abuse to take place from our law enforcement parties,” said Tony.
According to the Broward Public Defender's Office, Sobrino needlessly used excessive force against 27-year-old David Rafferty O'Connell earlier this year as O'Connell was being checked out in a hospital.
Amazingly enough, the sheriff went over and above the recommendations from the department’s professional standards committee who reviewed the internal affairs investigation and only recommended a 30-day suspension — for a cop who was charged with a crime while on the job. Imagine any other job in which a person not only violates their job duties, but during that violation they commit a crime. Do you think that any other person, other than a cop, would be allowed to keep their job after this?
Luckily, the sheriff didn't buy it and instead of the 30-day suspension, Tony recommended terminating the officer.
“That recommendation found its way to my desk. I also looked at the pre-disciplinary hearings in terms of what was stated on behalf of Deputy Sobrino. Taking a look at everything in a full, comprehensive manner, and being objective, I couldn’t support a disciplinary action of 30 days of suspension. So he was terminated, under my command, under my orders,” said Tony.
The sheriff's comments and actions in this matter are a breath of fresh air given the utter lack of accountability many other officers have enjoyed.
“We are going to be transparent. We are not going to sidestep these incidents when they take place. We will not turn a blind eye and act as though we did not know,” said Tony.
As TFTP reported, on January 1, O'Connell and a woman were arrested at a Walmart in Pompano Beach for allegedly trying to return ink cartridges fraudulently. O'Connell was brought to the hospital to be medically cleared before being transported to jail.
Sobrino was the officer in the hospital room with O'Connell. The officer had taken his body camera off and placed it on a nearby table but it still recorded his actions.
Recommended for You
As the video shows, O'Connell is chained to the bed and is asking repeatedly to leave the hospital, but Sobrino tells him he needs to be cleared first.
At one point, O'Connell had to use the bathroom but was told he would have to stay chained to the bed to do so. O'Connell had to urinate in the bed, so he got to his knees and tried to go in the urinal made for the bed. According to the public defender's office, some of the urine inadvertently spilled out onto the bed so O'Connell had to reposition himself as not to get urine on him.
While chained to a bed and forced to sit in his own urine, O'Connell continues telling Sobrino that he does not want to be there, swearing at the officer in the process.
The swearing caused Sobrino to snap and he walks over to O'Connell and begins punching him for no reason. He then handcuffed the man's other hand to the hospital bed.
He could be heard in the video saying, “Yeah, I just hit you again.”
Sobrino would then arrest O'Connell on charges of disorderly conduct, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer without violence, falsely claiming that O'Connell attacked him.
"While awaiting medical clearance, the defendant began yelling inside the hospital and attempting to stand from his hospital bed. When attempting to seat the defendant down on the hospital bed and further restrain him, the defendant intentionally placed his hand on my upper chest against my will and pushed me, there for [sic] committing a battery against my person," Sobrino wrote in the arrest report.
But this never happened. Sobrino was lying. Since then, all the charges against O'Connell have been dropped except for the one stemming from the incident at Walmart.
"It's clear that he exceeded the level of force that was necessary by punching him in the face. But when he then went and arrested him for battery on a law enforcement officer, when there were no facts to suggest that the battery had occurred, he was then trying to protect himself from his own wrongdoing," public defender Gordon Weekes told NBC 6 at the time.
Below is a video showing what a culture of violence and corruption inside a department looks like. Had video not existed of this incident, rest assured, no one would have believed O'Connell and he would be facing a slew of false charges. We are glad that the sheriff is finally taking actions, even if it took him ten months.
Below is the video in its entirety.