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No charges filed in alleged police brutality case

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  • | 4:00 a.m. September 2, 2009
  • Sarasota
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The State Attorney’s Office decided Sept. 2 not to file battery charges against the Sarasota police officer who was videotaped kicking a handcuffed suspect — an incident that ultimately led to the suspension of Police Chief Peter Abbott.

Officer Christopher Childers arrested Juan Perez June 26 for disorderly intoxication. The State Attorney’s Office investigation cited several witnesses who said Perez had a bloodied face before he was arrested, because he had fallen down several times in the street.

When Childers took Perez to the booking facility on Ringling Boulevard, a surveillance camera showed Perez climbing out of the car and falling down. Childers walked up to him and stood over Perez, placing one foot on him.

Perez then began to get up, and Childers kicked him twice in the torso, knocking Perez back to the ground.
The State Attorney’s Office found that when he placed his foot on the suspect, “Childers’ hands are in his pocket, (and) he does not appear to drive his foot with force into Mr. Perez.”

The investigation also found that “during both kicks, Officer Childers does not appear to cock his foot, and his hands are in his pockets.”

Childers said he kicked Perez because he “needed to control the arrestee” and “could have used more significant force, (but) he wanted to keep as much distance as possible, because of biological fluids that Mr. Perez was spitting and had all over his face and clothes.”

Childers said he was concerned that he could contract HIV or hepatitis.

The State Attorney’s Office said Childers had the “lawful right to touch Mr. Perez, (because) he was an arrestee who had escaped from the patrol car and was not responding to lawful commands to stay on the ground.”

It also found no evidence that Childers injured Perez.

The findings were only related to the alleged police brutality and had nothing to do with the investigation into a city employee paying money to Perez.

Abbott asked a city risk-management employee to give Perez $400 in exchange for waiving the right to sue the city over the incident.

The chief of police has been suspended until an investigation into that matter is complete.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].