Jury chooses to begin trial of former deputy accused of hitting motorist
St. Augustine, Florida. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, who was seen on video hitting a man during a traffic stop in December 2019, will go on trial this week for aggravated battery charges.
Representative Anthony DeLeo was arrested after a videotape recorded by a witness showed his use of force against Christopher Butler. The videos were handed over to the Butler family, who handed them over to investigators.
DeLeo has been fired from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
Delete phone videos (Warning, some viewers may find these videos disturbing): part One | Part 2
Jury selection begins Monday in DeLeo’s trial. Once the jury is in place, the plaintiffs will make their case that they say DeLeo’s use of force was excessive.
The family told News4Jax that Butler was seriously injured by MPs after he was stopped for driving 15 mph on Interstate 95.
Video of his arrest, captured by a witness and a state troopers dash camera, shows that over the course of about four minutes DeLeo hit Butler 19 times with his baton, kicking him in the head twice, while Butler sat on the ground offering little resistance.
After DeLeo hit and kick Butler, minimal effort was made to restrain Butler, according to an affidavit.
“Based on (DeLeo)’s actions, the undue amount of force and extent of injuries sustained by the victim have been determined; the likely cause of the aggravated battery charge has been determined,” the affidavit said.
According to authorities, Butler did not cooperate during the traffic stop.
After he was stopped at County Road 210, a witness picked up what happened next on his mobile phone and shared it with the Butler family. Teri Morgenstern, Butler’s mother, shared the video with News4Jax.
In the video, Butler can be heard screaming and groaning when he was shocked several times. Later in the video, Delio comes up with a baton.
“His nose was broken. They broke his shoulder, elbows, and wrists, and he has nerve damage where he can’t feel his thumb or forefinger on his dominant arm,” said his mother, Terry Morgenstern. “They beat him like it was nothing. Like he wasn’t a human.”
In a report from the sheriff’s office, investigators said Butler was uncooperative and unresponsive to orders. They said they believed he was using drugs because it seemed to them that the electric shock had no effect, according to the report.
Attorney John Phillips, who is representing Butler, said Butler was going through a medical episode when he was stopped.
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