Homeless man slapped by Fort Lauderdale police officer gets paid by city

City of Fort Lauderdale offers $50,000 settlement in brutality case

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Bruce LeClair, who was thrown to the ground and slapped in the face by a Fort Lauderdale police officer, is no longer homeless.

Cellphone video of the incident went viral around the world.  

LeClair has settled his case with the city and county for $50,000. His attorney, Gary Kollin, said LeClair is off the streets and using the money to relocate out-of-state with a longtime girlfriend and also intends to help start a college fund for his grandson. 

"This was a clear-cut case of police brutality," Kollin said. "It needs to be announced to society that we will not accept it when police officers abuse their authority."

Kollin said he was prepared to go to trial but when the city, which is paying $45,000 of the settlement, offered the money, LeClair opted to take it. 

"This was his decision," Kollin said. "He wanted to get it over with. This was immense emotional pressure on him, so he elected to resolve the case and put it behind him." 

The video shows LeClair sleeping on a bench at the central bus station in downtown, when Officer Victor Ramirez put his foot on him to wake him up and then tried to usher him from the property.

LeClair told Ramirez he wanted to go to the bathroom, but Ramirez refused the request and can be heard telling LeClair he was going to "beat" and "f***" him up if he was going to fight him.

Ramirez is then seen throwing LeClair down and slapping him while he was sitting on the ground. 

Ramirez was acquitted of misdemeanor battery and falsifying records in criminal court and is back on patrol after serving a 20-day suspension. 

"It seems a very low and very small punishment in regards to what he did," Kollin said. 

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, who approved of the settlement with LeClair, said he considers the officer's actions "inappropriate," but felt the 20-day suspension was sufficient punishment.

He said he believed the damages suffered by LeClair -- physical, emotional and otherwise -- were not "substantial" -- something which Kollin disagrees.


 

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