TITUSVILLE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Titusville Police have released details of an internal investigation, prompted after an officer was caught on camera tackling a suspect.
This internal investigation has been ongoing since late December, when video surfaced of a detective punching a suspect. It was widely circulated on social media at the time. In the video, the suspect can be seen on the ground at a local gas station, heard yelling, then Titusville police say Detective Joshua Bernd hit the man in the head.
Investigators said the two detectives were in the process of arresting 20-year-old Amari Hair for driving without a license. Hair was later booked into jail on drug charges.
Police said after seeing the video, they placed Detective Bernd on leave to investigate his use of force.
During a news conference on Tuesday evening, Titusville Police Chief John Lau showed the video posted on social media, side-by-side with dashboard camera video recorded in a police cruiser, as he explained why Detective Bernd has been exonerated after hitting the handcuffed suspect in the head.
"We do believe the least amount of force was used to control a resisting person," said Chief Lau.
He said that Hair kept reaching into the front of his pants, even though he was handcuffed. And he said Hair has a long, violent history that the detectives arresting him knew about during the confrontation.
"With the violent behavior known to them by Hair, his habitual resisting arrests, not allowing for pat downs and weapons and he has escaped on one occasion, the officers truly feared he had a weapon," Lau added.
"I think it could have been handled a little better," said Randle Clay, president of the North Brevard branch of the NAACP, "but they did what they needed to do to control the situation."
Hair has since been released from jail.
"He's not too happy, he's really worried about this same officer being placed on the streets," said Jennifer Hester, Hair's mother.