A Florida cop resigned from the force and faces criminal charges after video emerged of him slapping and punching a drunk man, according to a new report.
Fort Pierce Police Officer Albert Eckrode, 31 — a K-9 handler who was named Officer of the Month in 2016 — resigned Friday, a day after he was arrested on felony charges of battery and official misconduct, and a misdemeanor count of false report of the commission of a crime, TCPalm.com reported.
His fellow officer, Monica Frederic, 27, turned herself in Friday to face a misdemeanor false police report charge, according to the outlet.
“So that we’re perfectly clear here, this was not a use-of-force situation,” Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney told reporters. “This was a criminal act.”
The three-minute video, captured on Lawnwood Regional Medical Center’s security system on Feb. 20, shows a 38-year-old man sitting in a recliner in the mental health unit with his feet up, wearing only shorts and socks.
The man had been picked up for public intoxication and brought to the hospital. In the clip, he appears to be gesturing and yelling at Frederic, who is seated about 10 feet away, as well as another officer, when Eckrode enters.
Eckrode is shown confronting the man, using his foot to slam down the recliner’s footrest.
The unfolding exchange involves Eckrode slapping and punching him several times.
Though the patient at one point appears to start yelling back at Eckrode and taps his own cheek, as if to challenge him — prompting the officer to tap his own ear — the man never laid hands on Eckrode.
In their police reports, Eckrode and Frederic said the intoxicated man had been yelling racial slurs at Frederic, who is black.
Both Eckrode and the hospitalized man are white.
But Hobley-Burney said the incident was “not racially motivated at all.”
“It takes a lot for us to select someone as our K-9 officer and this was just a regrettable situation, I will say that,” she said. “And I’m not making excuses, but sometimes we are human too. And I think what was happening with [Eckrode] is it’s possible that what was being said, he wanted [the man] to stop, and he did not, and it involved [Eckrode] taking those actions.”
Eckrode is free after posting $4,500 bond and Frederic has been released on $1,000 bond.
Frederic’s attorney, Marty White, called his client “a good young lady, a good officer.”
With Post wires
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