Florida Narcotics Suspect’s Violent Arrest Stirs Controversy, Sheriff Defends Officers Actions

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The law enforcement officers implicated in the rough arrest of a narcotics suspect in Florida will not face disciplinary proceedings, as per claims made by their sheriff, citing an alleged manipulative edit in a video recorded by a bystander that caused indignation about the incident.

From the information currently available, there is a consensus within the law enforcement agency supporting the belief that its detectives acted fairly and in keeping with both the letter of the law and agency policy. This view was advanced by Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters early this week, while he addressed the arrest of Le’Keian Woods.

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Sheriff Waters conceded to the use of force by his deputies in arresting Woods, branding it as “ugly.” He further went on to observe that the array of force and violence deployed was innately unpleasant, yet this did not imply its unlawfulness or contrariness to policy. In the larger context, this case symbolizes another in a series of incidents where local law enforcement in the U.S. is alleged to have used excessive force against Black individuals.

The arresting officers have remained on active duty ever since the incident took place. Woods, a 24-Year-old, had been released from jail while still on probation on a felony charge of robbery. He was detained on suspicion of narcotics-related activities, and now also faces charges of resisting arrest with violence.

Woods’s legal representative decried the narcotics charges slapped on his client, alleging them to be fabricated. He castigated the arresting officers for using “deadly force” while taking his client into custody. To quote his exact words, the lawyer said: “Kneeing a person in the head, it’s not just the use of force – it’s deadly force.”

The reported arrest unfolded after Woods attempted to evade law enforcement officers following a routine vehicular stop. An officer resorted to using a taser on Woods which caused him to fall flat on his face. However, bodycam footage from the officers displayed Woods fighting back tooth and nail as he was being restrained. He allegedly flouted all officer commands and appeared to hide his right hand near his waistline, prompting an officer to strike him in the eye multiple times with an elbow.

As more officers arrived on the scene, bodycam footage shows Woods being kneed above his shoulders in a bid to expedite the handcuffing process.

Meanwhile, a six-and-a-half-minute video released by Woods’ attorney shows officers in differing attire holding Woods down while one slams him to the ground. Woods appears visibly swollen, both eyes bruised and distended when he is eventually sat up.

A mugshot of Woods, taken after the incident, shows both his eyes swollen shut and his chin cut, while his lower lip appears to be split.

The official bodycam footage from the incident was released early this week by Sheriff Waters after the video taken by the bystander had spread like wildfire online.

Woods was allegedly in possession of an illegal firearm, cocaine, and other substances when he was arrested. While he was brought up on multiple charges including trafficking meth and cocaine, forcibly resisting an officer, and possession of controlled substances, his attorney claimed the firearm belonged to another passenger in the vehicle.

Woods reportedly remains in “excruciating pain” following the ordeal. His legal team also stated that he was throwing up all food ingested, had suffered ruptured kidneys, and his eyes were still swollen shut.

In the coming days, Woods’ legal team plans to formally request the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate his case, alleging a clear misconduct by Sheriff Waters and his deputies.