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The Orlando Police Department is under scrutiny after video footage surfaced showing an officer kneeing a handcuffed prisoner in a holding cell and rupturing the man's spleen as well as an artery.
Video of the incident in August was obtained by local news station WFTV, and shows 40-year-old Robert Liese sitting in the cell with his hands cuffed behind his back. He was reportedly arrested for not paying a bar tab. The footage picks up Liese's audio as he sits on a bench and appears to talk to someone outside of the cell before standing up and hitting his head against the door, apparently breaking a small window in the process. As Liese returns to the bench to sit down, Officer Peter Delio enters and swiftly knees Liese in the stomach, saying, "Let me help you."
Delio tells Liese to "stop resisting" as he easily lifts the prisoner up and places him face down on the floor. He then orders Liese to get up, calling him a scumbag as he pulls him to his feet and escorts him out of the cell.
According to WFTV, the suspect was moved to a different cell, where Delio bound his ankles together. "Understand if you stand up, you will fall, and we will not retrieve you," Delio told Liese, who was soon squirming on the floor.
Two hours passed before police called for medical help. Liese's attorney, William Ruffier, said that the officers told the responding EMTs that Liese had complained of chest pains. At the hospital, they allegedly told medical staff that he had fought with them and had been injured in the chest. Liese was determined to have a ruptured spleen in his abdomen, however, which had to be removed.
Liese has filed an excessive force lawsuit against the department and has submitted a statement to investigators from Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
This is not the only controversy currently involving the Orlando Police Department. On February 18, the department fired Officer William Escobar in relation to an incident in March 2014 in which he punched and kicked a veteran during an arrest. Escobar initially told investigators that the suspect, Refus Holloway, had resisted arrest, but cellphone video shot at the scene showed the officer assaulting Holloway after he was already handcuffed. The department has also been accused of withholding body cam footage of the events, according to the Ocala Post.
Prosecutors announced earlier this year that Escobar would face criminal charges, including misdemeanor counts of battery and perjury, saying the video footage indicated the officer had lied in his account of events. The initial battery charges against Holloway have been dropped.
Photo via Flickr