Recorded on body cam video appearing to threaten a handcuffed suspect with pepper spray before grabbing a female officer by the throat, a Florida police sergeant is under investigation after being relieved of his supervisory duties.
On November 19, Sunrise police officers arrested a suspect for aggravated battery after he allegedly hit people outside of a convenience store. As the officers attempted to place the handcuffed suspect into the back of a patrol car, Sgt. Christopher Pullease approached him while aiming a can of pepper spray at the suspect’s face.
During a recent interview, Sunrise Police Chief Anthony Rosa stated, “I find it to be inappropriate and unprofessional, because what he did is he escalated the situation when calm was actually required.”
According to police body cam video, a female police officer grabbed Sgt. Pullease’s belt and pulled him away from the handcuffed suspect, who was backing away from Pullease in the backseat of the patrol car. After the officer let go of Pullease’s belt, he suddenly gripped her by the throat and shoved her into a patrol car with his left hand while holding the can of pepper spray in his right hand.
“So I’m very proud of this police officer,” Chief Rosa told WSVN. “She took some definitive action. I can only imagine what she must be feeling. She’s a newer officer, and he’s a very senior sergeant.”
Rosa added, “This officer intervening and stopping a situation from getting any worse is a direct reflection of the training that we do do with the police department, and I think that it’s important to note that the behavior is very unacceptable by the sergeant, but the behavior of the officer that intervened is exactly what society’s asking their police officers to do right now.”
After Rosa reviewed the body cam footage, Pullease was relieved of his supervisory responsibilities. The police sergeant remains under investigation by internal affairs.
“This supervisor escalated the encounter instead of de-escalating an emotionally charged situation,” Rosa said in a statement. “It is our practice at the Sunrise Police Department to do everything we can to de-escalate tense incidents and bring calm to chaos.”