Video shows Florida police officers beating suspect with batons
Two Hallandale Beach police officers were caught on video repeatedly striking a man with batons as he writhed in pain and they shouted "get on the ground."
Someone can be heard off camera yelling, "He didn't do anything. Stop f---ing hitting him."
The video surfaced Thursday afternoon on Twitter. The person who posted the video, using the Twitter handle 1, said the man is "mentally challenged."
"Police brutality in broad daylight on Hallandale Beach Blvd," the Twitter user wrote. "Police heavily beat this man up busted his head open led him to bleed heavily. The man is known around the area to be a mentally challenged individual."
Hallandale Beach's top officials called a press conference Thursday evening to address the burgeoning crisis.
"We do have a situation today where there's video of two of our officers in an altercation with someone," City Manager Roger Carlton told reporters. "I will tell you after viewing that video it is of serious concern to the police department, to me as city manager and certainly to our elected officials."
Carlton said the two officers — Jaime Cerna, an 11-year veteran, and Richard Allen, a 35-year veteran who retired and now works on an hourly basis — have been placed on administrative leave and an internal affairs investigation has begun. Carlton said they will be collecting surveillance video and interviewing witnesses.
"An internal affairs investigation has already begun and it will be done by the books," he said.
Unlike many South Florida police departments, Hallandale Beach does not have body-cam cameras for all of its officers. The city has contended with several issues in getting them, including some police officer resistance. Carlton says they're in the process of acquiring the cameras.
Prior to Carlton's remarks, the police department had issued a press release Thursday afternoon, about two hours after the minute-long video became public. In this age of social media, cops have come under fire by having videos come to light that show what could be considered excessive force.
"We are aware of the video that was released to the media today," Capt. Ra Shana A. Dabney-Donovan said in the news release. "We ask that the public and the media remain patient while we conduct a thorough and objective internal affairs investigation. We also would like the opportunity to obtain all video surveillance from the area that will depict the entire incident."
According to police, the arrest happened at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 900 block of West Hallandale Beach Boulevard.
Police say Daniel Dunkelberger, 27, stole someone's cellphone and charger from a car in the 200 block of Southwest 10th Avenue.
In trying to stop Dunkelberger, Cerna fired two Taser shots.
"I then deployed my Taser, which was ineffective,'' Cerna wrote in Dunkelberger's arrest report. "The defendant then stood up and fled on foot. I was able to deploy a second cartridge, which the defendant appeared to withstand.''
Because he used both of his cartridges, he switched to his expandable baton, Cerna wrote.
"I applied several strikes to the lower area of his legs. The defendant then went to the ground, where he was restrained with handcuffs."
He "tensed his body to impede officer from placing him under arrest," Cerna wrote.
"The defendant was re-directed to the ground where he landed in the crawling position and braced his body to prevent officer from placing him in restraints," the report said.
Dunkelberger, who is unemployed and lives in Hallandale Beach, was arrested and charged with burglary and resisting arrest.
Miami Herald News Partner CBS4 contributed to this report.