On Nov. 19 in Sunrise, Fla., police sergeant Christopher Pullease grabbed a junior officer by the throat as she attempted to deescalate a situation. His actions were not only brutal and unacceptable, but also well-hidden: not until recently was bodycam footage recovered that shows evidence of the incident.
The footage shows Pullease shouting expletives at the suspect, who was handcuffed and sitting in a police car. The sergeant then proceeds to pull out pepper spray and point it at the suspect. At this point, a female junior police officer stepped in, tugging Pullease’s belt to prevent the suspect’s mistreatment. In response, Pullease grabbed the junior officer by the throat, strangling her for multiple seconds and pushing her back against a police car.
Pullease managed to not only harass the suspect, but also physically harm his inferior. For any other person, these actions, especially when supported by video evidence, would result in arrest. Yet five days after the incident, Pullease was simply put on “desk duty” at the Sunrise Police Department.
Now, the police department is working to take more appropriate (although delayed) action.
Pullease is currently under criminal investigation. His pay is suspended pending the investigation results. Sunrise Police Chief, Anthony Rosa, condemned Pullease’s behavior, saying, “I find this behavior to be disgusting. I think the video speaks for itself.”
Rosa also shared pride and sympathy for the junior officer, noting that she did the right thing. “I’m very proud of this police officer. She took some definitive action,” said Rosa, “I can only imagine what she must be feeling. She’s a newer officer, and he’s a very senior sergeant.”
Rosa’s words are encouraging, but remain insufficient in ensuring that Pullease is held accountable for his actions. Particularly following the Black Lives Matter movement, instances of police brutality were reported and protested time and time again. Now, it seems like America’s anger with the police force has faded, and, as a result, we are hearing less about police violence that is still going on.
Pullease’s actions represent a slew of injustices. He unlawfully threatened a suspect, abused his power over an inferior and violently attacked a woman. Yet perhaps an overlooked injustice is that Pullease’s actions were underacknowledged by his police department and thus underreported in the press. The lack of public awareness allowed him to have delayed repercussions.
If there’s anything we can take away from this incident, it’s that police brutality still persists and it comes in many forms. It’s important that we stay informed of instances of police violence and take action to create a more just police force.