A Sunrise, Florida, police sergeant choked a junior officer who tried to pull him away from a Black man during an arrest, according to silent body camera footage released earlier this year.
Now, new audio of the incident reveals what Sgt. Christopher Pullease said to the suspect—and what may have caused the other officer, who had just two years of experience on the force, to intervene.
“Look at me, motherfucker. You wanna play fucking games? You wanna get disrespectful with my fucking officers? I will remove your fucking soul from your fucking body,” Pullease tells the handcuffed man in the back of a police cruiser, according to the audio.
Moments later, his fellow officer runs over to pull him away.
“What the fuck, don’t ever fucking touch me again!” Sgt. Pullease screams after backing the junior officer up against a patrol car by the throat. “Get the fuck off me.”
The audio, which was initially obtained by local news station WSVN 7 News Miami, comes two months after the video with no audio was released. Sunrise public information officer Justin Yarborough told VICE News that the department released a version of the video with sound last Thursday, a day after WSVN published theirs.
While responding to a call about a man allegedly attacking people outside a convenience store on Nov. 19, officers from the Sunrise Police Department handcuffed the 25-year-old Black man and tried to get him into their cruiser. When Pullease arrived on the scene, he immediately took the lead on the arrest and pointed a mace canister at the man while cursing at him.
“Hey, hey look at me, look at me! Look at me! You wanna fucking play fucking games? You’re playing with the wrong motherfucker!” Pullease says to the man in handcuffs, who quickly pulls his legs farther into the car, according to the audio.
“Do what you gotta do, man. You gonna mace me? Mace me,” the suspect responds.
At that point, Pullease threatens to “remove” the man’s “soul,” and the unidentified 28-year-old cop, who’s considerably smaller in stature compared to her superior, intervenes. In body camera footage belonging to another officer on the scene, the junior female officer pulls Pullease by his belt as he leans into the car, toward the handcuffed Black man sitting inside.
That’s when Pullease turned around and grabbed the other officer’s throat.
“And I’ll fucking see you in about five minutes,” Pullease says afterward, pointing his finger into the intervening cop, according to the audio. The footage ends with Pullease demanding all the officers on the scene to “turn off their fucking cameras.”
Pullease has been suspended since last November after Sunrise police began an internal investigation into his actions. A criminal investigation into his actions started in January, according to Yarborough. What charges he might face, however, have not yet been revealed to the public.
The officer that Pullease choked requested that her name not be released to the public by enacting Marsy’s Law, according to WSVN. The statute, which exists in Florida and other states, allows victims of crimes and police officers to remain anonymous to maintain their safety against those who might retaliate against them.
Department leadership also praised the young officer for stepping in to prevent the situation from getting any worse.
“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,” Department Chief Anthony Rosa said in a public statement released at the time.
Police culture and the dynamics of department hierarchy often deter officers, especially junior ones, from questioning orders or intervening in circumstances. For example, during the trial of the officers who failed to stop Derek Chauvin from murdering George Floyd, all three testified that the Minneapolis Police Department created an environment that downplayed intervention from junior officers.
One officer, who was just a week into the job, even said he feared for his job since Chauvin could technically fire him.
Ultimately, the three officers were convicted of denying Floyd’s civil rights.
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