A Fort Lauderdale police officer was suspended after a video clearly captured him hitting a kneeling woman during a peaceful protest related to the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota days earlier.
Disgraced officer instigated violence with local protesters
The footage shows the officer walking through a crowd of protesters who were mostly kneeling on the ground near a parking garage. As the officer in question walks through the area and reaches the edge, he is seen knocking a kneeling woman at the end of the crowd onto the ground. There was an immediate reaction from others in the area, and water bottles were thrown towards cops who were standing several feet away from the protesters after the saw the cop hit her.
A couple of minutes after this incident, other video clips captured a female officer in the same area yelling at him for disturbing the peace and pushing him away. Officers nearby took him away to try to diffuse the situation. Most of the peaceful protesters began to disperse at this time, however some other smaller groups in the city began to smash windows and spray paint and graffiti on buildings.
The Police Chief for Fort Lauderdale released the officer’s name and condemned his actions. However, he did say that other officers in the area had become surrounded by demonstrators and a few became violent and jumped on police cars. The chief confirmed that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will handle the initial investigation, then his department will be allowed to take over and make a decision based on the state agency’s findings.
Some officers as well as the chief said that there were a small group of protesters who apparently had bricks, fireworks, and other materials that were used to start fighting with police and destroy property in the area. The chief said that the disciplined officer was likely not the only reason for violence in the city that day, but he made a bad situation even worse. The Mayor of Fort Lauderdale also commented that the officer’s actions were disturbing, and he was pleased that the department would look into the situation to discipline him further.
A demonstrator in the immediate area was interviewed after the altercation. She said that she could not see the shoving incident, but heard the crowd reaction and felt burning from tear gas shortly after the officer came through. The local Fraternal Order of Police declined to issue any comments on the incident or speak to the media.
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