BSO attorneys defend deputies' body slam
Attorneys call violent bone-breaking takedown 'de minimis' force
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A year after a video surfaced showing what appeared to be a brutal assault on a man by two uniformed Broward Sheriff's deputies, BSO is officially responding to the accusations in court.
After he was punched and slammed to the pavement by the two deputies, David Gonzalez, 50, said he wanted the public to see it.
"I never raised my hands," said Gonzalez. "I never showed that I was a threat to him."
Gonzalez, who suffered a broken eye socket and other injuries in the incident, filed a federal lawsuit against deputies Justin Lambert and Mike Manresa and Sheriff Scott Israel.
The sheriff, who is dealing this week with the controversial dragging of a mentally ill woman by a deputy at the courthouse this week, won't speak publicly on an internal investigation. However, representatives of his agency did plenty of talking in a recent motion to dismiss the federal case.
In its motion, BSO defends the deputies, calling the body slam "de minimis force" and saying that any reasonable officer would conclude that the actions of the deputies were lawful.
"What they're claiming is the force that was used was appropriate under the circumstances," said attorney David Kubilian.
After watching the video, Kubilian, an expert in excessive force cases, said the assault on Gonzalez was anything but "de minimis."
"You don't see anyone committing any kind of violent act," said Kubilian. "In fact, you see him giving himself to the officers."
BSO attorneys also lay blame for the seriousness of Gonzalez's injuries on Gonzalez himself, writing that he was too intoxicated to prevent "falling face forward on the pavement."
"I think that's clearly offensive and I don't think any jury is going to like that argument," said Kubilian.
Kubilian said the jury will likely rely on the key piece of evidence in the case: the video.
"Thank God for Mr. Gonzalez that there is a video, because I think the video speaks for itself," said Kubilian.
The judge has yet to rule on BSO's motion. Meanwhile, the two deputies remain at work, assigned to desk duty pending internal and criminal investigations into their actions.
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