Venice, FL — The ACLU is speaking out in defense of an innocent man who was wrongfully accused of breaking into his own hotel room and then attacked by raging cops. Officers with the Venice police department are now in the spotlight after video of the incident was released this week.
The incident unfolded on December 21 outside a Motel 6 in Venice, Florida. Although the attack happened last year, the dash camera footage was only just released. Now we know why the police held onto it for so long.
Police were responding to a call of an alleged burglar that day after a motel employee called them claiming they saw someone climb through a window.
As the video shows, Ethan Waters, 19, was standing outside the hotel on his phone when police arrive on the scene. Instead of talking to Waters and conducting an investigation, police grab Waters and slam him into the wall. As Waters ask why they are attacking him, police then slam him face first onto the curb, cutting his head open in the process.
“You don’t have this right!” Waters says as armed state agents attack and kidnap him. “This is America and I am an innocent citizen.”
Even though police certainly don’t have the right to simply roll up on innocent people and attack them, the officers in the video below appeared to not care.
Not until after they had savagely abused and injured this innocent man did police ask any questions and realize that Waters was indeed a guest at the hotel.
Waters was the person who entered the room through the window but it was because his mom, who was staying in the room with him, forgot to give him a key.
“It’s clear the officers don’t have a whole lot of information, and rather than get that information, they immediately get out of their car and start throwing people up against the wall and on the ground. Just like he said, this is America. He is an American citizen. We don’t treat people this way,” Michael Barfield, one of the paralegals on Waters’ defense team and the President of ACLU Florida told WWSB.
This case is a literal representation of attack first and ask questions later. Sadly, because the cops attacked Waters and he didn’t merely go limp and allow them to smash his head into the wall, Waters was charged with resisting arrest.
Despite the video showing Waters with his hands in the air when police got there, the police report describes him as hostile, “posturing, tensing and not complying with officer’s commands to take his hands out of his pockets.”
“The audio and video evidence seems to contradict the officers’ sworn reports because it shows Ethan’s hands were not in his pockets, nor was he acting aggressively towards law enforcement,” Water’s defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Aaron Getty said. “As Ethan was a lawful guest at the motel, he obviously had every reason to cooperate with whatever the officers were investigating. If this is how these officers behaved when they know they are on their own cameras, one must wonder how they behave when they don’t know they are on camera?”
Waters lawyer is correct when he says the video disputes those charges as the only thing Waters “resisted” was allowing bully cops to smash his face into the concrete.
“We’re going to conduct an investigation ourselves. Mostly into the officers conduct, and then ask the State Attorney why these charges are still pending against our client. When things like this happen where you have video evidence like this, and it’s so compelling, you have to take action responsibly and quickly to restore trust in the Venice Police Department. We hope the Chief does this very very quickly,” Barfield explained.
According to the Venice police department, they are “looking into” the way the officers handled the “investigation” into the burglary.