Sergeant who grabbed officer's throat arrested on battery, assault charges

Chief denounced the behavior and commended the officer who acted inline with the department's policy to intervene

By Angie DiMichele
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

SUNRISE, Fla. — A police sergeant with more than two decades on the force is now facing battery and assault charges months after he grabbed a female officer by the throat and wielded pepper spray during a heated arrest in Sunrise.

A Sunrise Police Department spokesperson confirmed in an email Thursday that an arrest warrant was issued for Sgt. Christopher Pullease.

He is facing charges of battery on an officer, tampering with evidence, assault on an officer and assault on a civilian male, the Broward State Attorney’s Office said in a news release Thursday evening.

Pullease, 47, was booked into the Broward Main Jail on Thursday afternoon, jail records show, and had been released after posting bond later in the night.

The 21-year veteran was placed on paid administrative leave in January as the police department and the State Attorney’s Office conducted a criminal investigation. He was assigned to desk duty days after the incident.

On Nov. 19, 2021, Pullease and several other Sunrise police officers placed a handcuffed man into the back of a police car when Pullease pulled his pepper spray from his belt, video originally published by WSVN-Ch. 7 shows.

A female officer grabbed Pullease’s belt from behind in an attempt to deescalate the quickly rising tension and pull him away from the handcuffed man in the back of the car. Pullease turned and reached his left arm up to her neck, holding her neck briefly before moving his hand to her shoulder and pushing her backward.

A probable cause affidavit says Pullease tampered with a cellphone to “impair its verity or availability in a criminal trial, proceeding or investigation ...” on Jan. 19 — the same day he was placed on paid administrative leave. The assault charges stem from Pullease holding pepper spray up to the officer and the man’s face.

WSVN-Ch. 7 originally published a version of the body-worn camera video with audio in March that had not yet been released. In the video, several officers talked to the confrontational suspect before Pullease arrived.

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“Y’all steady following me,” the suspect said, the video shows, prior to being handcuffed. “If I open fire on one, two or three, I told y’all ...”

An officer at the scene said over radio that the suspect had threatened to open fire. Once Pullease arrived and the man had been placed in the police car, the video shows Pullease, pepper spray in hand, shouting at the suspect to look at him and cursing at him.

“Look at me motherf-----,” Pullease said. “You want to play f------ games? ... I will remove your f------ soul from your f------ body.”

The video obtained by the TV station then shows the female officer grabbing Pullease’s belt. Pullease cursed at the officer before saying, “Don’t ever f------ touch me again.”

The female officer responded, “Sir!” before he told her, “Get the f--- off me” and let her go, the video shows.

Pullease then walked back to the car with the suspect inside and slammed the door before he turned toward the other officers standing nearby and told them to shut their cameras off.

Police Chief Anthony Rosa denounced Pullease’s behavior in a lengthy statement in January and commended the fellow officer who acted inline with the department’s policy to intervene “when there is an imminent fear of engagements escalating unnecessarily.”

In January, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 80 President Steven Negron wrote in a statement, in part, that Rosa’s comment about “alleged training provided to his police employees as it relates to their ‘duty to intervene’” was “knowingly false.”

“There have been no training classes as it relates to verbal deescalation nor on their duty to intervene because the Sunrise Police Department has not provided this type of training to its road patrol officers,” Negron’s statement read.

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Pullease’s current status at the department was unclear late Thursday.

A department spokesperson said in an email late Thursday that the agency’s Internal Affairs investigation was put on hold in January once the criminal investigation began and now will resume.

Pullease, if convicted, could receive maximum punishments of five years in prison for the felony battery on a law enforcement officer charge, one year for assault on a law enforcement officer and 60 days for assault on a civilian, the State Attorney’s Office said.

Information from the Sun Sentinel archives was used in this report.

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