Authorities in Florida have brought charges against a police sergeant who was filmed grabbing a female colleague’s neck during an arrest last year. In a statement, Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said that Sergeant Christopher Pullease faces a slew of charges including battery and assault on a law enforcement officer, per CNN.
The November 2021 incident occurred when the officers were arresting a suspect. The 47-year-old sergeant is “accused of intentionally touching or striking the female police officer against her will, assaulting her by holding pepper spray up to her face, and assaulting the civilian male by holding pepper spray to his face,” the statement said, adding that Pullease has also been charged with evidence tampering.
“Sergeant Christopher Pullease was involved in an incident in November 2021 that led to a joint criminal investigation which was conducted by the Sunrise Police Department and the Broward State Attorney’s Office,” a Thursday statement from Sunrise police also read. “Sergeant Pullease has been on administrative leave throughout the course of the investigation.”
In the wake of the confrontation, Sunrise Police Department chief Anthony W. Rosa told WSVN that it was prudent to make the bodycam footage of the incident available. “It is vital to be transparent,” he said.
Prior to the incident, Rosa said a suspect had been arrested for a violent felony. After he was made to enter the patrol vehicle, Pullease “approached and engaged in a verbal altercation with the suspect in a manner that I feel was inappropriate and unprofessional,” Rosa said in January.
Rosa said Pullease allegedly screamed at the “suspect while holding his can of pepper spray,” “Although he did not deploy the spray, the sergeant’s actions unnecessarily elevated the demeanor of the suspect,” he added.
The bodycam footage also showed Pullease ordering the suspect to look at him, Law & Crime reported. “If you’re going to mace me, mace me,” the suspect said.
“I will remove your [censored] soul from your [censored] body,” the police sergeant told the Black suspect.
The female police officer is then seen running to Pullease before she pulls him by his belt in an attempt to get him away from the suspect. But Pullease faces the female officer and grabs her neck as he pushes her back.
“The movements of the sergeant and officer are stopped when the officer’s back comes into contact with a nearby police vehicle,” Rosa said. “Upon hearing about this incident, I immediately relieved the sergeant of his supervisory responsibilities and ordered an internal affairs investigation,” he added.
Pullease was arrested in connection with the incident and appeared before court on July 21, CNN reported. He pleaded not guilty to the four charges brought against him. He was also released after posting bond. His next court hearing is scheduled for September.
If found guilty, “the maximum possible penalties are five years in state prison for felony battery on a law enforcement officer, one year for assaulting a law enforcement officer, and 60 days for assault on a civilian,” the state attorney’s office said in the statement.
Pullease also faces five years in prison if he’s found guilty of tampering with evidence.
A Sunrise Police sgt is on desk duty during an IA. Body cam vid shows him grabbing the throat of a young officer after she pulled him back from a cuffed arrestee.— Daniel Cohen (@DCohenNEWS) January 14, 2022
“I find this behavior to be disgusting.”- Chief Rosa
w/@KarenHenselTV @wsvn Watch full: https://t.co/XoDyqryBEp pic.twitter.com/MCxOOJ2KvW