A Hollywood police officer responding to a domestic-disturbance call faces a battery charge after home-surveillance video showed him hitting a handcuffed man twice and holding his throat, the Broward state attorney’s office announced Friday.
Matthew Barbieri, 34, could face up to a year in prison if convicted and has been suspended from the force.
On Aug. 6, Barbieri and another Hollywood police officer, Diante Roots, responded to a home where they encountered a person who “was under the influence of heroin and acting erratically,” according to a redacted police report.
The efficiency had a surveillance camera, police said. The video has not yet been released to the public, but police say it shows “an excessive use of force being utilized by the officer.”
According to the report, Barbieri led the man into the hallway, out of camera view, but the man could be heard “claiming to be in pain as it is believed handcuffs are being placed on him.” The man, police said, admitted to trying to get rid of drugs in the bathroom.
Barbieri told the man “to ‘shut up’ a couple of times,” an officer wrote in the report. He then walks back into the camera frame and the man could be heard telling him he doesn’t have permission to search.
The man could then be heard shouting “Ow!” Barbieri, police said, then brought the man back into the camera view and “then strikes [the man’s] face twice, with his right hand, before placing his left hand on [the man’s] throat as [the man] slides down the wall to the ground,” an officer wrote.
Barbieri, according to the report, could be heard saying “How about now? How about now? Do I have permission now?”
The man was then arrested and charged with possession of heroin. He suffered a minor laceration to the head, police said.
Hollywood Police Chief Chris O’Brien commented on the incident:
““When I was made aware of this incident, I was extremely disappointed, and immediately relieved the officer of all departmental duties. I also initiated an internal affairs investigation, which led to the officer being charged criminally. We serve our community with integrity and accountability. As peace officers we hold our duties to the people we serve to the highest standards. The actions committed by this officer in no way represent the core values which we pride ourselves in each and every day. I believe in our system of checks and balances, which were implemented to ensure officers who commit acts such as this, are identified and held accountable.”
Rod Skirvin — president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, which represents Hollywood’s police officers — said the union will be representing Barbieri. An attorney has yet to be assigned to him.
“We will have to wait and see what the video shows and doesn’t show before we can comment on that,” Skirvin said. “We are looking forward to all the facts coming out on the case so that we can give Mr. Barbieri a vigorous defense.”
State Attorney Michael Satz declined to comment further on the case. Hollywood police could not immediately be reached for comments Friday.