- October 15, 2009
The American Civil Liberties Union is requesting the city hand over all e-mail communications concerning a Sarasota police officer’s beating of a handcuffed suspect.
Specifically, the ACLU is looking for communications from suspended Police Chief Peter Abbott; Sgt. Ken Castro; City Manager Bob Bartolotta; and Larry Hobbs, a city risk-management employee.
City Auditor and Clerk Billy Robinson estimated there were about 2,600 e-mails in question.
Michael Barfield, vice president of the ACLU’s Sarasota chapter, said he is looking for “transparency in the investigative process and the events that occurred.”
He would not say whether the ACLU was considering a lawsuit against the city on behalf of Juan Perez.
Perez was arrested June 26 for disorderly intoxication and obstruction. Surveillance video at the booking facility shows Perez climbing out of a police-car window and falling to the ground. Officer Christopher Childers then placed his foot on Perez’s chest.
When Perez tried to get up, Childers kicked him twice in the chest, and Perez fell to the ground.
Written reports from Childers and another officer did not mention the kicks. And when a jail employee told the police department’s shift commander, Lt. Ken Rainey, about the incident, Rainey waited a week to tell his superiors.
Castro was assigned to investigate the case. But Abbott also instructed Castro to get a check from Hobbs to offer to Perez in exchange for an agreement not to sue the city. Castro personally delivered the $400 check.
Bartolotta said he was not informed of the videotaped incident or the payoff and subsequently suspended Abbott while an independent investigation is conducted.
Childers was also suspended. Rainey and Hobbs were reprimanded.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].