Fla. LEO seen on video grabbing fellow officer's throat, under investigation

The younger officer had been trying to de-escalate a tense arrest, officials said


By Austen Erblat
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

SUNRISE, Fla. — A veteran police sergeant is on desk duty and under investigation after wrapping his hand around the throat of a junior officer and pushing her up against a police cruiser after she tried to deescalate a situation involving the sergeant and a suspect at a crime scene. Sunrise Police Sgt. Christopher Pullease’s actions in November were captured on video originally obtained and released by WSVN Ch.-7

Sunrise Police Chief Anthony Rosa called Pullease’s actions disgusting, according to the TV station.

Gordon Weekes, Broward County’s Public Defender, sent the chief a letter Friday questioning why Pullease has not been arrested on a charge of battery on a law enforcement officer.

The chief did not respond to Weekes’ letter, Weekes told the South Florida Sun Sentinel Monday. Weekes told the paper he is considering bringing the matter to the State Attorney’s Office for review should Sunrise fail to take action.

“As you noted, ‘the facts speak for itself.’ The facts in this matter are uncontroverted and clearly captured on video. Yet this incident occurred on November, 19 2021. Some fifty-six (56) days later and the officer has not been held to account.

“I respect and understand the complexities of a criminal investigation. However I do not understand why that same deliberate and considerate process that causes Sgt. Pullease to remain on desk duty and not be arrested for his actions, is not afforded to everyone else in the community,” Weekes wrote to the chief.

The video shows Pullease arriving at the scene of an alleged crime on Nov. 19 as other officers are putting a handcuffed suspect into a police car. The audio in the video is muted, but it appears that there is an argument between Pullease and the suspect. Pullease pulls out pepper spray and points it at the handcuffed suspect.

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At this point, a female officer is seen on body-worn camera footage pulling the 46-year-old sergeant away from the suspect.

Pullease, a 21-year veteran of the force, turns around and suddenly and aggressively puts his hand on the throat of the 28-year-old officer. He then pushes her by the shoulder into the side of a police car.

The younger officer has not been publicly identified. She has been with the department two years, the department told WSVN 7.

The faces of all officers at the scene, other than Pullease’s, are blurred, and the audio is muted. Police said this was due to the ongoing investigation.

Rosa declined to divulge what Pullease said in the video, but he praised the young officer.

“I am very proud of the officer involved in this incident and believe that the actions taken were definitive and demonstrative of good leadership during a tense situation,” he said.

“The men and women of the Sunrise Police Department are expected to de-escalate emotionally charged situations and intervene immediately if it appears that a fellow officer is losing control of themselves or displaying inappropriate conduct while engaged with the public,” Rosa told the TV station.

Law enforcement expert Michael D’Angelo, of Secure Direction Consulting, told NBC Ch. 6 that the young officer demonstrated what policing should look like in 2022.

“She’s from what I would call the new era of law enforcement training where interpersonal skills and de-escalation techniques are paramount,” D’Angelo told NBC6.

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Weekes said the lack of an arrest shows there are clearly two systems of justice.

“I am compelled to bring this sobering data to your attention to illustrate the two systems of justice that exist in our community,” Weekes continued in his letter to the chief. “It appears as if law enforcement officers engaged in wrongdoing get different treatment as opposed to everyone else. This must not be the case.

“I urge you to continue to stand tall against misconduct that tarnishes the work of good law enforcement professionals. But I also encourage you to move more expeditiously when holding officers accountable for their transgressions and give that same deliberate process to all others. I compel you to bring parity between law enforcement officers misdeeds and the act and those for whom they serve.”

In the past, Pullease has been investigated and cleared of two accusations of excessive force by his department, according to WSVN-7, but details of those incidents or investigations were not immediately available.

Through a police union representative, Pullease declined to comment, WSVN reported.

©2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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