A Fort Lauderdale police report released Monday tells the story of a confrontation in which a veteran police officer slapped a homeless man in the face at a city bus terminal last month.
Video of the Feb. 22 interaction was posted to YouTube, and Officer Victor Ramirez was put on administrative leave.
In the report, Ramirez, who was working an off-duty detail at the time, wrote that he thought the homeless man, Bruce Laclair, was going to attack him and that’s why he got physical with him.
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The incident began, Ramirez wrote, when Ramirez tried to escort Laclair from a bus bench because Laclair was sleeping, violating a terminal rule. In the video, Ramirez is seen seconds later pushing Laclair to the ground.
In his report, Ramirez wrote: “Laclair pulled away from me in a violent manner. I reacted by pushing Laclair away from me to keep him from attacking me.”
On the ground, Laclair said he told the officer he wanted to go the bathroom.
“You’re not gonna go pee,” the officer is heard saying on the video. “You’re gonna get up. I’ll push you to the ground and I’ll beat you up if you [expletive] try to fight me.”
Ramirez then slapped Laclair and arrested him for trespassing.
In his report, Ramirez wrote, “I warned Laclair that I would hit him if he tried to grab me. When I grabbed Laclair by the arm to help him off the ground, Laclair tried to grab my wrist. This time I responded to Laclair’s actions by striking him on the side of his face; I hit him one time with an open hand.
“My intent was to distract Laclair and keep him from grabbing me.”
Ramirez also wrote in his report that Laclair was drunk and was very difficult to deal with.
Laclair told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 a different story. He said Ramirez was the aggressor.
“This gentleman was clearly out of line,” Laclair said in an interview last week.
A Fort Lauderdale police spokesperson said the case remains an internal affairs investigation and that Ramirez is still on administrative leave with pay, but the investigation could lead to criminal charges against Ramirez.