Silent body camera footage released earlier this year showed a Florida police officer choking his female colleague after she pulled him away from a Black man’s arrest. Recently released audio shows what the cop had said to the suspect and what likely caused the junior officer to intervene.
Sunrise police were responding to a call about a man accused of attacking people outside a convenience store in November. Officers handcuffed a 25-year-old man and tried to get him into a police vehicle. Sgt. Christopher Pullease then arrived on the scene, taking an aggressive lead on the arrest and pointing a Mace canister at him while cursing at the man.
“Hey, hey, look at me. Look at me! You wanna fucking play fucking games? You’re playing with the wrong motherfucker,” Pullease tells the handcuffed man entering the police cruiser, according to the audio initially obtained by Miami TV station WSVN and published March 23.
“Do what you gotta do, man,” the suspect responds. “You gonna Mace me? Mace me.”
According to Pullease’s body camera footage, the sergeant then leans into the vehicle to get closer to the handcuffed man.
“Look at me, motherfucker. You wanna play fucking games? You wanna be disrespectful with my fucking officers?” Pullease shouts. “I will remove your fucking soul from your fucking body.”
It was at that point when the 28-year-old female officer intervenes by grabbing the back of Pullease’s belt to pull him out of the car, as shown in body camera footage belonging to another officer on the scene. The junior cop, who has about two years of experience on the force, appears to be trying to deescalate Pullease’s confrontation with the suspect.
The sergeant then turns around and grabs her by the throat, backing her up against a patrol car.
“What the fuck? Don’t ever fucking touch me again,” the sergeant screams at her. “Get the fuck off me.”
Pullease then tells the junior officer that he’ll “fucking see you in about five minutes.” The sergeant briefly goes to his police vehicle before coming back and demanding all officers on the scene “turn off their fucking cameras.” The footage ends at that point.
Sunrise police spokesperson Justin Yarborough told HuffPost on Monday that the department released the video with sound after WSVN-TV published their copy of the video.
Sunrise police suspended Pullease, who has been with the department for over 21 years, in November with pay after launching an internal investigation into his behavior. The Broward County State Attorney’s Office launched a criminal probe into the sergeant in January. Yarborough said that the department is working with State Attorney Harold Pryor’s office and has paused its internal investigation due to the criminal allegations.
“The need to withhold audio has run its course,” the spokesperson said. “Once the investigation is complete, the finding will be available.”
Yarborough said that the female officer invoked Marsy’s Law, which allows crime victims and police officers to remain anonymous in order to maintain safety against people who may retaliate. As a victim, the 28-year-old junior officer requested that her identity be protected.
“I’m very proud of this police officer. She took some definitive action,” Sunrise Police Chief Anthony Rosa told WSVN in an interview. “I can only imagine what she must be feeling. She’s a newer officer, and he’s a very senior sergeant.”
Rosa said that the department has already implemented policies requiring intervention and deescalation.
“This officer intervening and stopping a situation from getting any worse is a direct reflection of the training that we do with the police department,” the chief told the Miami station. “And I think that it’s important to note that the behavior is very unacceptable by the sergeant, but the behavior of the officer that intervened is exactly what society’s asking their police officers to do right now.”
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