Christopher Pullease, a Florida police sergeant, is under investigation after he was captured on body cam footage while putting his hand on the throat of a female officer who was trying to deescalate the arrest of a suspect. The incident happened in Sunrise, Florida on Nov. 19 as police were arresting the suspect for aggravated battery after he was accused of hitting people outside a convenience store.
Sunrise police released video of the incident without audio. The footage also blurred the face of the female officer, as well as the suspect. Speaking with WSVN, police chief Anthony Rosa said he can't reveal what Pullease said to the suspect, but he made a comment that escalated the situation when the man was already in handcuffs.
Rosa also said Pullease threatened the man with pepper spray as officers were trying to put him into the police car. That's when the female officer ran from behind and pulled the sergeant by his belt to get him away from the suspect.
“In accordance with our department policies and procedures that call for intervention when there is an imminent fear of engagements escalating unnecessarily, the officer is seen grabbing the sergeant by the back of his duty belt and pulling him backwards,” Rosa told Vice News.
Pullease then grabbed his colleague and pushed her against a patrol car while placing one hand on her neck.
“The initial contact between the sergeant and the officer was his hand against her throat,” Rosa said.
Pullease walked back to the suspect in the vehicle seconds later. The sergeant opened the car door and closed it immediately before pointing at the female officer and saying something.
Rosa said he's proud of the officer who intervened.
"She took some definitive action," he said. "I can only imagine what she must be feeling. She’s a newer officer, and he’s a very senior sergeant.”
The unnamed 28-year-old officer has worked with Sunrise Police for two and a half years. Pullease, 46, has served as an officer for more than 21 years. He is now placed on desk duty while the investigation continues.
"There’s some details of the investigation that I’ve not disclosed, that I’m unable to disclose right now, and if any of the information that comes up during the investigation rises to a level of criminal behavior or criminal conduct, then we’ll address it appropriately,” Rosa said as he explained why Pullease is not currently facing charges.
The chief also said the audio will be released when the investigation is complete.
“I’m not releasing the audio at this moment in time," he said. "However, once the investigation is done, I’m committed to being completely open and transparent and everything will be released.”
Pullease, who had two allegations of excessive use of force nearly 20 years ago, was cleared on both. According to Vice News, most police departments require their officers to intervene if a colleague is escalating an incident.