FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy accused of battery and falsifying records nearly five years ago.
Deputy Justin Lambert was arrested for an incident in 2014 when he and another deputy, Mike Manresa, were caught on video beating David Gonzalez in front of a Deerfield Beach gas station.
The station manager accused Gonzalez of stealing candy and beer. The deputies said Gonzalez was belliigerent and swore at the deputies at the time of the incident.
Surveillance video showed both Lambert and Manresa punching Gonzalez in the head and pushing him to the ground.
Gonzalez was seriously injured and has undergone dental repair and needed surgery to fix his eye socket.
"The evidence is going to show Deputy Lambert, based on his training, could have done more," Lambert's attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, said in his opening statement to the jury. "Justin Lambert exercised restraint."
Along with battery, Lambert and Manresa were also charged with falsifying records to suggest their actions were necessary to subdue Gonzalez.
BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said Lambert has been suspended without pay since being charged.
"Manresa is on restricted administrative duty as he is accused of a reporting violation," she said in an email.