A Florida police sergeant was placed on desk duty on November 25 and remains under investigation after bodycam footage caught him choking a female fellow officer who was trying to de-escalate a Black man's arrest.
In the November 19 incident, Sergeant Christopher Pullease, a 46-year-old veteran of the Sunrise Police Department in Florida, aggressively assaulted a Black man who had already been taken into custody and placed in the back of the police vehicle.
The Sergeant's violent behavior included threatening the detained suspect with pepper spray and engaging in a violent altercation with him.
Things escalated when another officer–whose face was blurred in addition to other officers seen in the footage–yanked Pullease away from the suspect by the belt.
In a knee-jerk response, the Sergeant turned around and grabbed the 28-year-old officer by the throat with his free hand. His hand then quickly moved to her shoulder and he slammed her against another patrol car.
Warning: excessive force by police.
The violent assault was caught on a bodycam worn by another officer at the scene. The incident is in the process of an internal affairs investigation.
You can watch a news report–which again includes the violent footage of excessive force–here.
Video Shows Police Sergeant Put Hand on Fellow Officer’s Neckyoutu.be
Sunrise Police Chief Anthony Rosa called the Sergeant's behavior, "disgusting" and "inappropriate and unprofessional."
Minutes before the encounter with Pullease, the footage showed officers walking the handcuffed suspect to a patrol car after he was arrested for aggravated battery. Police say he was hitting people outside a convenience store.
As officers had difficulty getting the "verbally and physically resistive" suspect into the vehicle, Rosa said that was when Pullease showed up in his vehicle and made the situation worse.
According to WSVN Rosa said:
"I find it to be inappropriate and unprofessional because what he did is he escalated the situation when calm was actually required.”
Twitter users were dissatisfied with the Sergeant's disciplinary course of action for his behavior.
They also commented on his adrenaline-charged reaction to the intervention by a fellow officer.
Rosa commended the officer–who only had been on the force for two-and-a-half years–for de-escalating the assaulting Sergeant's interaction with the suspect.
Pullease is a 21-year veteran of the force, which had not gone unnoticed by Rosa.
"I’m very proud," he said of the unnamed female officer.
"She took some definitive action. I can only imagine what she must be feeling. She’s a newer officer, and he’s a very senior sergeant.”
Regarding police conduct among officers, Vice News noted that most police departments "have a policy that requires officers to intervene if a fellow cop is taking things too far with someone they’re interacting with."
"But the institution is often criticized for not following through," the site added.
"As George Floyd was being murdered, for example, none of the three officers present chose to physically stop officer Derek Chauvin from kneeling on the Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes."
"This failure to act is the subject of both a federal and state criminal trial scheduled to begin later this year."
Rosa said his department already has policies in place in situations requiring intervention and de-escalation by fellow officers.
"This officer intervening and stopping a situation from getting any worse is a direct reflection of the training that we do with the police department," he said, adding:
"And I think that it’s important to note that the behavior is very unacceptable by the sergeant, but the behavior of the officer that intervened is exactly what society’s asking their police officers to do right now.”
Audio from the footage has not been released to the public since the incident remains under investigation.
“I’m not releasing the audio at this moment in time," confirmed Rosa.
"However, once the investigation is done, I’m committed to being completely open and transparent and everything will be released.”
WSVN said they looked into Pullease's internal affairs history with the Sunrise Police Department and found he had two prior allegations of excessive use of force nearly 20 years ago.
Both of those charges have been cleared.