Police Sergeant Placed on Desk Duty after Assaulting Fellow Officer
(FL) – Sergeant Christopher Pullease, with the Sunrise Police Department, has been placed on desk duty. The action was taken after an incident that occurred in November. Officers had taken a subject into custody and had placed the handcuffed man into a patrol car. The man continued to be verbally abusive. Sergeant Pullease arrived and immediately began to escalate the tension, threatening the man, and going so far as to aim his pepper spray at the secured individual.
Police department police is to de-escalate situations. By law and police department policy, officers are required to intervene if they see another officer escalating a situation or using excessive force. A rookie female police officer stopped Sergeant Pullease by pulling him away from cuffed man. Sergeant Pullease then turned on the female officer and grabbed her by the throat, pushing her backwards as he yelled at her.
Internal Affairs Investigation Underway
I have to give some credit to Police Chief Anthony Rosa. An internal affairs investigation was initiated and he did release video of the incident when he didn’t have to. That in itself is a problem. No video of police misconduct should be exempt form open records requests. But the situation still stinks. Even though he released the video, he redacted the audio. We have no idea what Sergeant Pullease said. “Sunrise Police Chief Anthony Rosa says he could not tell us what the sergeant said, but says it made the situation worse.”
And we also don’t know what he said to the female officer. I have no doubt threats were made, but of what nature? Did he threaten to write her up? Have her suspended? Have her fired? Those are certainly things he could attempt to do as her supervisor. Or did he threaten physical action against her? Did he say something like, ‘if you ever put your hands on me again I’ll kick your ass’? That he can’t legally do. We don’t know because Chief Rosas chooses not to tell us. All we know is the only immediate action Chief Rosas took was to place the sergeant on desk duty while the assault is being investigated.
Police Chief Praises Female Officer’s Actions
Police Chief Rosas did praise the unnamed female officer for acting to protect a secured prisoner from being assaulted, but what about the rest of the officers? None of them moved to stop the sergeant when he was escalating the situation with the secured man. And they just stood by and watched while the sergeant assaulted the female officer. Why didn’t they jump to her defense? They’re police officers. They watched a man grab a woman by the neck, keep pushing her backwards as he physically and verbally assaulted her, and they did nothing. Where are the chief’s comments on the lack of action by the male police officers?
Why No Arrest? Where’s the Criminal Investigation?
Part of an exchange with Police Chief Rosas and Investigative Report Karen Hensel with WSVN.com,
Karen Hensel: “If one of us had ever grabbed an officer by the throat, we would be arrested. We would be put in jail. Why is that not happened with him?”
Chief Rosa: “So there’s some details of the investigation that I’ve not disclosed, that I’m unable to disclose right now, and if any of the information that comes up during the investigation rises to a level of criminal behavior or criminal conduct, then we’ll address it appropriately.”
It’s kind of hard to look at the video and have doubts that the actions by Sergeant Pullease rise to a criminal level. As the reporter says, if a non-officer grabbed an officer by the throat, we would be arrested. There would be no ifs, ands, or buts, about it.
Public Defender Weighs In
Public defender Gordon Weekes sent a letter to Rosa wondering why Sgt. Pullease is on desk duty and was not arrested for his actions.
In that letter, Weekes says 410 individuals have pending cases in his office for battery on a law enforcement officer and all were immediately arrested on site. He claims officers engaged in wrongdoing should not receive different treatment.
Two Different Justice Systems
Both the investigative reporter and the public defender are absolutely right. Sergeant Cristopher Pullease should have been arrested immediately. Sergeant Pullease is a 21-year veteran with the Sunrise Police Department. There is no excuse for his actions.
This situation shows the difference between privileged and non-privileged people. The individual in custody was arrested for aggravated battery. He had hit some people at a convenience store. Yet the sergeant, a person who should be held to a higher standard, was only placed on desk duty after assaulting a female officer. The penalties for crime really do depend on who you are, not on what you’ve done.