FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Two Broward Sheriff's Office deputies, Justin Lambert and Mike Manresa, who were caught on surveillance video slamming a man face-first to the pavement last year, have been charged criminally, court records show.
Lambert, who instigated the attack on David Gonzalez, 50, in front of a Deerfield Beach gas station last February, was charged with battery.
Both he and Manresa were charged with falsifying police reports afterward to make it appear the attack was justified. All the charges are misdemeanors rather than felonies, despite the fact that Gonzalez suffered a fractured orbital socket and other injuries in the incident.
Defense attorney Gary Kollin, who isn't a party in the current case but has represented another alleged victim in a brutality lawsuit against Lambert that ended in a $350,000 settlement against BSO, welcomed the criminal charges.
"It's about time with regard to Lambert, Manresa and the police here in Broward County facing up to charges for their misconduct," Kollin said.
But he said prosecutors undercharged the two deputies, whom he said clearly should have been hit with felony charges for the attack and the alleged falsification of records to justify it.
"I think that the charge ... should have been at least a felony battery --a third-degree felony -- instead of a misdemeanor," Kollin said. "Because Gonzalez suffered serious bodily harm."
Neither the BSO or the state attorney's office notified the public of the charges, which were filed April 24. Local 10 learned of the charges from a courthouse source.
Both deputies were issued summons to appear in court, meaning they didn't have to turn themselves in at the jail to be booked.
In addition, both Lambert and Manresa, while under suspension, are still being paid their salary while facing the criminal charges.
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