A police officer resigned from the Fort Pierce Police Department after being caught on camera punching and slapping a suspect at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center.
The incident happened on February 20.
“It is a sad state of affairs that I am before you today," Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney said.
Chief Hobley-Burney said police officers and crews with St. Lucie County Fire Rescue found the 38-year-old man unconscious and intoxicated on Okeechobee Road. Officers took him to the hospital for an evaluation, where he continued to be combative and made threats, as well as using racial slurs, to Officer Monica Frederic, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Hobley-Burney said 31-year-old Officer Albert Eckrode then punched and slapped the suspect, who was not in handcuffs. The suspect suffered an injury to his upper lip that required stitches.
“Things that you saw on the video is not tolerated and we will not allow anyone that wears the badge of this department to such actions to any citizen," she said.
Eckrode, a K9 handler with the department, was put on leave the same day of the incident and faced termination. But he decided to resign.
“This was a criminal act. This type of behavior will not be tolerated," Hobley-Burney said.
The chief said the FDLE determined Eckrode broke the law. Police arrested him on felony charges of battery and official misconduct, and a misdemeanor charge of writing a false report to a law enforcement officer of an alleged crime, according to jail records. He posted bond on Thursday night.
“I want the public to understand that we addressed this immediately. We took immediate action because we want them to know that everyone will be treated with dignity and respect," Hobley-Burney said.
Officer Monica Frederic, 27, faces a charge of filing a false report of the commission of a crime. She has been on unpaid leave since March and also faces a termination hearing.
Both officers turned themselves in on Thursday, the FDLE said. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit.