Fort Lauderdale police officers laughed and celebrated after shooting protesters with rubber bullets at a May 31 George Floyd rally in Fort Lauderdale, newly released body camera footage shows.
“Beat it, little f***er,” Detective Zachary Baro, leader of a Fort Lauderdale SWAT team unit,can be heard saying after officers shot “less lethal” projectiles at a protester. The protester was walking away after tossing a tear gas canister back at the line of police.
A few minutes later, another officer, Jamie Chatman,came up to Baro behind the police line and asked if his body camera was off. Baro replied — incorrectly — that his camera was in “stand-by” mode and not recording. The two officers then began laughing and joking about the people they had shot with rubber bullets.
“Did you see me f**k up those motherf****rs?” one of the officers said.
“I got the one f***er,” the other replied amid laughter.
George Kirkham, a former police officer and professor emeritus at Florida State University, condemned the behavior captured on the footage.
“This is serious misconduct. This is people with badges acting like thugs,” Kirkham said. “It’s like a cancer. If you let it go, it will spread.”
Maglione did not respond to questions about whether Baro and Chatman had been placed under internal investigation or removed from duty.
The officers’ conduct was revealed in hours of footage provided by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in response to a Miami Herald public records request. The footage bolsters protesters’ accounts that police aggression sparked the first documented confrontation between police and protesters.
Marchers hurled plastic water bottles after Officer Steven Pohorence rushed into a crowd of protesters and pushed a kneeling woman in the head. Police responded with a round of tear gas. Still, body camera footage shows that even after that, protesters quickly moved to reestablish peace.
“Please I am begging you, we’re peaceful,” one man can be heard yelling.
“Do you see this?” another man asked to the line of riot police pointing to the protesters taking a knee in the street. “We are going to stop this. We are going to be the generation that brings peace.”
After a few tense minutes, video shows police started to throw tear gas at the group again. Within 15 minutes of Pohorence shoving the woman, Baro had emptied his six-chamber rubber bullet launcher and had to reload, he can be heard saying in his body camera video. (Pohorence was charged with misdemeanor battery on Tuesday.)
“If you need it, give me a target,” Baro yelled to other officers from behind the line of police.
The comment stuck out to Robert Drago, a retired lieutenant colonel at the Broward Sheriff’s Office, who reviewed the footage.
“If you’re not seeing a threat, why are you asking for a threat?” Drago said. “That would almost lead you to believe that they were indiscriminately firing.”
Baro said in his incident report that he was firing rubber bullets at protesters throwing tear gas canisters and other objects.
“I understand what it’s like to have that adrenaline. I’ve been in a riot situation,” Kirkham said. “But that does not excuse that kind of verbiage and behavior. It suggests that the police think they can do whatever they want and get away with it.”
Other policing experts agreed.
“It’s unprofessional. They shouldn’t be laughing and joking about shooting and potentially hurting people,” said Philip Sweeting, former deputy chief of police in Boca Raton. “It reinforces the public’s distrust of the police. It shouldn’t be tolerated.”
Drago also criticized the behavior of Chatman, the officer who asked Baro if his body camera was off.
“It shows intent and then he makes inappropriate, unprofessional statements,” said Drago. “It’s not a carnival. This isn’t hit-three-times-and-get-a-stuffed-animal. It doesn’t seem like these officers had public safety in mind at all.”
Christina Currie, an attorney and chair of the Fort Lauderdale Citizens’ Police Review Board, said Chatman asking if the body camera was off posed a “grave concern.”
“It was pretty obvious the officers were comfortable about talking about turning the camera off,” Currie said. “It didn’t feel like the officer wearing the camera felt shocked about hearing that question. There need to be clearly articulated consequences for violations.”
Fort Lauderdale police policy on body cameras states that: “Once the [camera] is activated to record an interaction, it shall remain on until the event has ended.”
There is more at the link above. The article clearly shows the police enjoying hurting the people, the police clearly are acting aggressively to establish their power and authority in a bullying thuggish manner. These are not law officers anymore, they are a gang enforcing their desires through violence and paid for with tax payer money. I hope people will read the article and understand this is a fight against the authoritarian police gangs who demand more and more of governments budgets and a progressive future. Hugs