POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A video posted to Facebook, that appears to show a Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy hitting a man in handcuffs, has made its way to Sheriff Grady Judd.
According to Judd, a complete and thorough investigation will be completed, but there is more to the story than what the video show.
The eight-minute video, which captures a fight that broke out on Chesnut Rd. in Lakeland on May 6, is below.
In the video, two men can be seen hitting each other, while a woman and another man in a neon shirt stand nearby.
Eventually, the fight stops, and the man in the neon shirt walks off with one of the men allegedly involved in the fight. At the same time, the video shows another fight breaking out across the street.
That’s when multiple sheriff’s office patrol cars arrived.
According to Judd, deputies arrived in “emergency mode” and began working the scene in order to sort out: What is going on? Who is fighting? Is anyone hurt? And is there guns or knives?
While doing so deputies attempted to talk to, the man in the neon shirt, now known as 20-year-old Fernando Jimenez, who they say, witnessed the first fight and was in the area of the second fight. But, he attempted to leave, according to the sheriff’s office.
That’s when deputies attempted to arrest Jimenez who, Sheriff Judd said then resisted and spit on a female deputy.
“I don’t need to tell you at this time of COVID when everybody’s supposed to be socially distancing,” Judd started before explaining how the group was not socially distancing. “But, when I look at that , and then one of my deputies gets spit directly in the face by a guy, never mind HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, but now we have COVID.”
As for where the video appears to show one of the deputies strike Jimenez twice while he is held against the trunk area– Judd confirms this, saying the deputy hit him while attempting to get Jimenez under control.
Then deputies worked to place Jimenez in the back of a patrol car where his legs were tethered together to keep him from kicking out any windows, according to the sheriff’s office.
He also had a spit guard placed on his face because “this guy [was] trying to spit on everybody,” according to Sheriff Judd.
Now, the incident is under a complete and “thorough” investigation.
“I can tell you one thing we are going to do a complete and thorough investigation. I have built a reputation of doing what’s right. If there’s a violation of the rules then they will be held accountable for that,” Judd said. “But, I can tell you clearly and unequivocally in this day and age of COVID, HIV, Hepatitis, how would you respond if somebody spit in your face today? In the middle of this pandemic? When the state of Florida is under a state of emergency. You would stop it, you would stop it.”
Both deputies are set to be tested for COVID-19.
The sheriff’s office said the video is also under review as it was just obtained on Thursday.
But, Judd is grateful for the video for another reason, sharing that it allows them to get a clearer picture of the fights and charge people who may not yet have been charged.
Jimenez is facing charges for resisting without violence, resisting with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer. He has since bonded out of jail.