The Fort Lauderdale Police Department (“FLPD”) is being sued by a woman who says she was beaten in retaliation for testifying against an FLPD officer caught on tape beating a homeless man.
Jessica Mooney recently filed suit against the FLPD alleging police brutality under a §1983 Civil Rights claim.
On February 22, 2015, Mooney was sitting next to her fiancé who was using his cell phone to record FLPD Officer Victor Ramirez.
Officer Ramirez was in the process of brutalizing a homeless man, Bruce LeClair.
In the video, Ramirez can be seen repeatedly striking LeClair in the face and shoving him to the ground over allegations that LeClair had attempted to use a public restroom.
Ramirez can be heard at one point, saying, “You’re not going to go pee. You’re not supposed to pee here.”
The video went viral. Both a criminal and civil suit followed. Ramirez was acquitted during his criminal trial. Later, the City of Fort Lauderdale opted to settle the civil suit for $50,000.
Jessica Mooney testified against Officer Ramirez during the state’s ill-fated prosecution.
Eight days after testifying, a group of FLPD officers arrested Mooney on charges that she had walked out of the Quarterdeck Restaurant without paying her $63.57 bill. Mooney actually had paid the bill in question and the charges were eventually dropped.
According to a Friday report by the Miami New Times, while sitting in the police station, Mooney accused the officers of falsely arresting her and asked for Officer Amanda Moreno’s name and badge number.
Mooney says that instead she was grabbed, thrown to the ground and beaten by several officers who punched and kicked her.
Police claimed she yelled obscenities at the officers and took a swing at Moreno, but video evidence refuted the official account given by the FLPD.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office declined to release the footage to the media, citing a state law that protects government surveillance systems from being “compromised” by the public.
Mooney says her face was “smashed” into a fingerprinting machine by Moreno before “three or four more” officers joined in on the sustained attack. Prosecutors never charged the officers involved in the incident.
The lawsuit notes that Mooney then spent two days in the Broward County Jail after being arrested on the ultimately-dismissed charges. She was then treated for head trauma at a nearby hospital.
Mooney’s attorney, Robert Selig, plans to raise the question of whether her assault was in retaliation for testifying against Officer Ramirez. He said:
The facts will have to come out during the trial. But it is just a fact, that she was a witness in that case, and it’s a fact that this then happened to her.
[image via Mooney v. City of Fort Lauderdale et, al.]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
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