Sheriff fires deputy who punched man handcuffed to hospital bed

Despite recommendation for suspension, Tony opts to terminate deputy

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Broward Sheriff's Office deputy who punched a man while he was handcuffed to a hospital bed has been fired.

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony announced Wednesday that Deputy Jorge Sobrino has been terminated after an internal affairs investigation into the January incident.

According to prosecutors, Sobrino confronted David O'Connell at a Walmart in Pompano Beach after witnesses said the man tried to fight an employee at the store.

O'Connell was ultimately arrested on a charge of resisting without violence and was taken to Broward Health North to be evaluated for his injuries.

While handcuffed to the hospital bed, O'Connell was verbally abusive to Sobrino. Body camera video shows Sobrino punch O'Connell in the face and twist his arm behind his back.

Sobrino claimed O'Connell pushed him in the chest first, but the video didn't support his claim.

Tony said a professional standards committee recommended a 30-day suspension for the deputy's actions.

"I cannot support a discipline action of 30 days," Tony said.

The sheriff said he made his decision after reviewing all the factors.

"We cannot allow for a small fraction -- that .001% of deputies who may step out of line, who may violate policy -- to be reflective of an agency of 5,500 employees," Tony said.

Sobrino had been suspended without pay since June. He was hired by the BSO in 2015.