FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (CNN) – A Fort Lauderdale police officer is suspended without pay after video emerged showing him slapping a homeless man.
The video above has prompted an open investigation and taken a Fort Lauderdale officer off the streets and out of his uniform all for a slap heard loud and clear. That’s Officer Victor Ramirez. He’s been on the force with Fort Lauderdale PD for nine years but Sunday he was working an off duty job at a bus stop near downtown Fort Lauderdale when all of this went down. Fort Lauderdale police are now speaking out about what happened while thanking the news station, WSVN, for bringing them the video captured by a witness who sent it to them.
“And I want to start out by first thanking Channel seven. Yesterday you brought this to our attention and we greatly appreciate the fact that we now get an opportunity to respond to this serious incident,” said a member of the police station.
“That was a pretty hard smack, huh?” said Omar Lewis of Ft. Lauderdale.
“Oh yeah. And all I was trying to do was use the restroom,” said Bruce Laclair, a homeless man who was hit by the officer.
However, instead of a trip to the restroom he ended up in cuffs with a trip to the slammer for trespassing. He’s been told not to go back to that bus station. Meanwhile Fort Lauderdale police say Officer Ramirez is off the job for now with pay.
“We are now conducting an internal investigation. Part of that will be a first phase; we’ll be looking at a criminal allegation. Then we will be conducting an administrative review,” said a member of the police station.
The department says Officer Ramirez received use of force training every year. As for the city, they say this incident doesn’t help their already controversial image with homelessness.
For Bruce Laclair, he hopes the shove and slap to the face ends with more than a slap on the wrist for this officer.
“I’m pissed off. I don’t know what, I mean, most of the police officers around here are very reasonable, good people. They just have a job to do. This guy, I don’t know what his problem is,” said Laclair.
Copyright 2015, CNN. All rights reserved.