Lakeland, Florida police are allegedly investigating after a video showing officers kicking and punching a man was posted to social media.
The assault occurred at 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, when Officer J.R. West saw a man lying under the I-4 overpass at U.S. 98. The man, Justin Abbott, 38, was sleeping when officer West allegedly went over to check his safety, reported WTSP.
The officer gave Abbott a trespass warning and ordered him to leave. Then another officer arrived on the scene.
Abbott allegedly refused to leave, so officers decided to arrest him for trespassing. As they started to take the man into custody, he reportedly resisted.
West tased Abbott during the struggle, but it had no effect, so he tried again but had the same result.
After the second shot, Abbott allegedly grabbed the weapon the officer was using on him.
That is when the other officer jumped in and attacked Abbott.
“I was shocked,” Joel Alfaro, who recorded the video and posted it to Facebook said. “I was like this is really happening.”
Alfaro says the officers crossed the line, and he does not believe their story about Abbott grabbing the officer’s taser.
“He’s just taking a nap or trying to stay out of the rain, and instead of helping him out and figuring out why he’s distressed, they get three different guys to beat him up that’s twice his size,” Alfaro said.
As expected, the Lakeland police department supports the abusive behavior of their officers.
“We do understand perception is reality for some people, but that’s not always the case,” Gary Gross, a spokesperson for the department, said.
Abbott was charged with trespassing and resisting with violence, and taken to the Polk County Jail.
The department is allegedly reviewing the incident, but after a preliminary investigation, the department supports the assault.