A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police officer has been fired after being arrested for beating a woman in custody, according to an article in the Florida Times Union. The officer was at the base of the jail in the intake area with the woman who he arrested. That area, as well as other areas in the jail, is video monitored. The officer was surrounded by three other officers, who did nothing, as the woman was hit repeatedly while restrained. The officer was arrested for misdemeanor battery in Jacksonville.
In Florida, a simple misdemeanor battery is defined as an intentional touching against someone’s will or intentionally hurting someone. Even a touch on the shoulder could be considered a battery in Jacksonville if unwanted. If the victim of the battery is pregnant, the crime is elevated to a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. A simple battery can also be converted to a felony if there is great bodily injury caused by the touching. Also, if there is a deadly weapon used to injure someone, it is considered a felony in Duval County. The fired officer will have to face a county judge with his pending case.
Police officers are taught how to handle a “hostile” person in their custody. There are many ways to restrain an already restrained person that poses little physical threat to the officer. Presumably, that is why the man was arrested. The sheriff’s office chose not to discipline the three male police officers who just stood and watched the rogue officer lose his temper on this woman. The office claims that it is not a crime to witness a beating. That statement is true in the civilian world, but aren’t police officers held to a higher standard when they witness a crime less than four feet in front of them? Don’t police officers have a duty to protect the community, which this woman is a part of, from present harm. Harm they knew was illegal as evidenced by them reporting the incident “almost instantaneously”, according to the JSO.