WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A police officer has quit and two others were on administrative leave Tuesday after a patrol car dashboard camera caught them punching and kicking a handcuffed suspect.
West Palm Beach police released the video Monday, showing what happened to Pablo Gilberto Valenzuela, 42, on May 26. He suffered a broken jaw and bruised eyes, authorities said.
Officer Louis Schwartz attempted to arrest Valenzuela for robbing a pharmacy of about 1,000 Oxycontin pills, city spokesman Chase Scott said Tuesday.
The officer was involved in an unrelated traffic stop in the pharmacy parking lot when a clerk ran out of the store and said they'd been robbed, Scott said.
He said Schwartz caught the masked suspect behind the store, where Valenzuela attempted to pepper-spray him.
Schwartz drew his gun and ordered Valenzuela to the ground.
The video shows another officer, Kurt Graham, arrive and put a knee into Valenzuela's back as he was being handcuffed. The video then shows Graham punch and kick Valenzuela in the face. Schwartz is also seen on the video kicking Valenzuela.
Another officer, Jason Zangara, then lifted a handcuffed Valenzuela to his feet. As the suspect pulls away from the officer, Zangara can be seen punching him several times in the face until the man collapsed.
Valenzuela was arrested on charges of robbery, assault and battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.
Graham and Schwartz insist they only kicked Valenzuela because the man was trying to bite Graham's leg. Zangara said he punched Valenzuela after he tried to spit on him.
Graham, described as a rookie officer still on probation, resigned on July 22, Scott said.
Schwartz and Zangara have been on administrative leave since around the time of the incident, he said.
An internal affairs investigation concluded Monday. The police chief is deciding disciplinary action for the officers, Scott said.