Fort Pierce Police Officers Charged After Punching Intoxicated Man
Security footage from Lawnwood Regional Medical Center shows the officer slapping and punching a man who was brought in for public intoxication.
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Two police officers are facing charges after a video surfaced showing one of them repeatedly slapping and punching an intoxicated man inside a hospital mental health unit.
Albert Eckrode, 32, resigned Friday after being charged with felony battery and official misconduct and a misdemeanor count of filing a false police report, according to ABC News. Officer Monica Frederic, 27, was charged with filing a false police report and has been suspended without pay.
A Feb. 20 video obtained from Lawnwood Regional Medical Center’s security system shows the victim, who had been brought in for public intoxication, sitting in a recliner with his feet up. The three-minute soundless footage shows the man gesturing and appearing to yell at Frederic, who is seated about 10 feet away with another officer when Eckrode enters. He listens to the man for a few seconds then calmly puts down his water bottle, approaches the man, and slams down the recliner’s footrest with his foot.
Eckrode then hovers over the seated man and uses his knee to push the chair back twice. He then slaps the man’s cheek with his right hand and again with his left hand. The man appears to yell back at Eckrode and taps his own cheek, as if urging him to hit him again.
In response, Eckrode slaps the man a third time and pushes him in the chest. The man turns his cheek toward Eckrode, who then punches him four times. The victim’s injuries required stitches.
During the confrontation, the man did not touch Eckrode and Frederic and the third officer did not intervene.
Eckrode and Frederic wrote in their reports that the man had been yelling racial slurs at Frederic, who is Black. Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney disputed their claims, saying the altercation was not racially motivated.
“This was not use of force — it was a criminal act. We will not allow anyone who wears the badge of this department to do such actions to any citizen,” said Hobley-Burney. However, she added, “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.”
There is also an internal investigation underway into why the officers’ body cameras weren’t rolling during the incident, reports WPTV.
Eckrode is out on a $4,500 bond. Frederic is out on a $1,000 bond and has requested a pre-disciplinary hearing. The third officer who was in the room did not falsify a report, according to Hobley-Burney, and remains on duty.
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