Authorities in Broward County Florida are investigating bodycam footage that appears to show a sheriff's deputy punching a man who was handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Howard Finkelstein, who is with the public defender's office, sent a letter to the Broward County Sheriff's Office demanding they investigate what he called "excessive force" seen in the footage by Deputy Jorge Sobrino.
"The video shows clear police abuse," the letter by Finkelstein states.
The bodycam footage, which was obtained and released by the Miami Herald on Wednesday, begins with O'Connell with his right-hand handcuffed to the hospital bed while waiting for the doctor. O'Connell to show Sobrino repeatedly ask if he could leave the hospital bed, but Sobrino refuses, saying he needs to be medically cleared per the department's policy.
At one point, O'Connell says he needs to urinate, and kneels in the bed to use a urinal provided to him. O'Connell inadvertently spilled some of the urine on himself and the bed, and needed to reposition himself to avoid the wet spot.
That's when Sobrino can be seen throwing the inmate's legs on the hospital bed and hitting him in the face. Sobrino then handcuffs O'Connell's other arm to the bed.
"Deputy Sobrino punched Mr. O'Connell in the face without physical provocation because he was frustrated with Mr. O'Connell," Finkelstein wrote in his letter to the sheriff's office. "Punching a restrained individual who is not physically aggressive is unacceptable."
Finkelstein asked for an investigation into the matter and for Sobrino to face charges of battery and falsifying a police report.
According to the arrest report filed by Deputy Sobrino, O'Connell was responsible for the altercation on Jan. 1 and started it by pushing him.
"While awaiting medical clearance, the defendant began yelling inside the hospital and attempting to stand from his hospital bed. When attempting to seat the defendant down on the hospital bed and further restrain him, the defendant intentionally placed his hand on my upper chest against my will and pushed me, there for [sic] committing a battery against my person," Sobrino wrote in the arrest report.
An internal affairs investigation into the incident has been opened by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, a spokeswoman said.
Sobrino, who has been with the department since January 2015, is still on duty, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.