WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A white Florida police officer with a history of excessive force is charged with aggravated battery during his arrest of a Black man accused of trespassing outside a grocery store.
West Palm Beach Officer Nicholas Lordi turned himself in at the county’s main jail on Tuesday night and bonded out on Wednesday morning, officials said.
He’s accused of punching John Monroque multiple times and breaking his nose outside a West Palm Beach store on Nov. 1, 2019, six months before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis caused a national outcry against excessive force by police.
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report says Lordi and Officer Jamesloo Charles responded to the trespassing call. As Charles checked the 65-year-old man’s identification, Lordi pushed his head onto the hood of the cruiser, the report said.
A struggle then ensued as the officers tried to handcuff Monroque. They ended up on the ground, with Lordi lying on his back while holding Monroque in a headlock, the report said. Lordi then punched him with his left fist and Monroque did not hit back, the investigation revealed.
The man was then rolled onto his stomach and Lordi sat on top of him, delivering more blows to Monroque’s head, the report said.
A bystander tried to intervene, but was moved out of the way by Officer Charles, who then placed Monroque in handcuffs. Monroque, who did not move for nearly a minute, later told FDLE investigators that he was unconscious, the report said.
Then the struggle resumed, and Lordi knelt on Monroque’s head, using his right knee, for 14 seconds, according to an affidavit. He had told the man to "stop spitting" as he laid handcuffed on the ground.
Monroque was treated at a hospital for a "closed fracture of (his) nasal bones," the report said. He then spent 20 days in jail. The case against him was dismissed a year later.
Lordi said in a deposition in 2020 that Monroque was "disrespectful" and was "fighting, pulling away, and not listening to commands."
The officer told investigators that Monroque had tried to grab the second officer’s gun magazine and they "had to use force." He said he had delivered a few "softening strikes" to the man’s face.
A West Palm Beach police statement says the department immediately launched a use-of-force investigation and asked FDLE to investigate once additional evidence was found. The FDLE report said surveillance video contradicts some of Lordi’s statements.
The agency concluded that Lordi "used force in excess of what was necessary to mitigate the incident" and "intentionally or knowingly caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement" to the victim.
"I feel good now. It’s justice," Monroque said at a news conference on Wednesday, adding that he forgives Lordi.
Michael Salnick, an attorney for Lordi, told WPTV he had no comment.
Sue-Ann Robinson, an attorney for Monroque, told reporters that Lordi has "extensive history of complaints and excessive force."
The South Florida SunSentinel reported that internal affairs records show the officer had been disciplined for his conduct toward the public, failing to obey laws and directives and violating the department’s code of conduct and ethics. As of March 2020, he had been involved in 15 use-of-force incidents since 2015.
It was not clear whether the second officer was disciplined for his involvement in the Monroque arrest.
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