3 Homestead officers charged in 2011 beating

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Three Homestead police officers are out of jail on bond after being arrested in connection with a beating outside a bar.

Sgt. Jeffrey Rome, 56, and Officer Giovanni Soto, 40, are accused of taking part in at least two incidents that were caught on surveillance video.

Sgt. Lizanne Deegan is accused of failing to file a police report with one of the victims.

The alleged attacks happened in April of last year outside Celio's Latin Quarter located at Northeast Ninth Street near Southwest 177th Avenue.

According to the arrest affidavit for one of the officers, "Homestead Police Sergeant Jeffrey Rome was captured on video as he grabbed a visibly elderly man by the collar and pulled down until the man was on the ground at which point Sergeant Rome dragged the man from the roadway to the sidewalk. As the man lay motionless on the ground, Sergeant Rome is seen kicking the man in the head."

Soto is accused of beating a man so badly that his face was disfigured. Prosecutors alleged that Rome assaulted a 69-year-old man and used pepper spray and tear gas on another.

John Rivera, the head of the police union, said the arrests are politically motivated and has called for an investigation into the Homestead police chief.

Rivera said Rome was trying to prevent the man from entering the bar because he was drunk and belligerent.

The police union wants to know why the State Attorney's Office waited until now to pursue the case.

"I want to be clear, the PBA does not condone the behavior of rogue cops, however, each situation is different and all officers facing charges cannot be painted with the same brush. In my years of experience, this is one of the worst cases I have seen of bad prosecution, bad investigation and bad administration," Rivera said in a statement.

The State Attorney's Office released a statement Tuesday, saying, "Police brutality is wrong no matter what form it takes. The covering-up of police brutality is equally wrong. That's why we are prosecuting these cases in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice who played an essential role in helping make these cases possible."

All three officers have been suspended with pay since June of last year, according to Homestead police.

No one answered the doors at Rome's or Deegan's homes Tuesday.