CRIME

Florida Deputy Resigns After Video Shows Him Striking Handcuffed Teen

Lee County Sheriff's Deputy Blake Grossi resigned after the video of his alleged strike went viral.

A Florida deputy has resigned after a video surfaced last week that shows him using his elbow to strike a handcuffed teen in the face.

Deputy Blake Grossi of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was first put on administrative leave after a Twitter user shared the video and demanded answers from the sheriff’s office.

Officials confirmed Grossi’s departure to HuffPost on Friday. In a statement posted on Facebook, Sheriff Carmine Marceno described the victim in the video as a suspect “in our custody” who was “mistreated.”

“Regardless of what occurred prior to this incident, our deputies are held to the highest standards, we respect everyone’s constitutional rights, and we will not tolerate mistreatment of any suspect,” Marceno said in the statement.

When asked whether the Lee County Sheriff’s Office has plans to review its policies, spokesman Sgt. Alan Canfield told HuffPost that Grossi was in violation of its existing policy against excessive force and said no change was needed.

“We don’t abuse our police power,” Canfield said, noting that Grossi was no longer a deputy.

The video, which was filmed on Feb. 14, shows two deputies holding a teen identified as 17-year-old Bienvenido Roman by the arms while apparently washing off his face with a hose. Grossi, the third deputy, enters the frame of the video, approaches Roman, elbows him in the face and walks away.

The deputies first attempted to arrest Roman in Fort Myers Shores on Tuesday, but the teen fled from the officers, according to NBC 2. The video reportedly shows Roman’s eventual arrest.

Roman was wanted on several probation violations.

Twitter user @brycherrera1 posted the video last week, tagging the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. “Explain this,” the Twitter user wrote.

Brycherrera1 did not return HuffPost’s requests for comment.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office launched an internal investigation into the video after it surfaced, but the internal disciplinary process was halted after the deputy resigned, Marceno said on Wednesday.

After Grossi’s resignation, the sheriff’s office forwarded the matter to the State Attorney’s Office for review. A spokeswoman for the Lee County state attorney told HuffPost that they had not yet received any information regarding Grossi’s firing as of Thursday night.

Roman has reportedly been arrested 12 times since 2016, NBC 2 reported. The teen’s father, who is also named Bienvenido Roman, told the News-Press that his son has had run-ins with the officer in the past.

“I told him you did wrong,” the elder Roman told his son, according to the paper. “But so did the officer.”

This article has been updated with a response from the Lee County state attorney’s office and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

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