Sarasota official apologetic after payoff is exposed

07/21/09 Mitch E. Perry
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In Sarasota Monday, Police Chief Peter Abbott publicly apologized for a series of events that began after the City attempted to buy off a Latino man, after a video at the country jail surfaced that showed he had been kicked by a Sarasota Policeman.

Juan Perez was taken to the Sarasota County Jail after he was arrested on a charge of disorderly intoxication on Friday, June 26th. Perez speaks very little English. A video depicted Sarasota Police Officer Chris Childers kicking Perez when it appeared that he was not following Childers' orders.

According to those who have viewed the video, Childers appeared to grow angry after Perez failed to follow his commands. The video ends with Childers keeping his foot on Perez as Perez is on the ground.

Later that day, Lieutenant Ken Rainey watched the video of the violence against Perez. However, he did not inform his superiors at the Department for 11 days. Rainey says he was waiting for a copy of the video. But the Sarasota Herald Tribune reports that was 4 days after they requested a copy of the video.

When asked at a news conference Monday if Rainey had been punished, Sarasota Police Captain Lucius Bonner said the 22-year veteran was simply given a written reprimand.

The Police Department began their investigation on July 10th, after learning of the video. Chief Abbott then contacted a risk-management official with the city, as well as the sergeant with internal affairs who was looking into the Perez arrest.

That sergeant, Ken Castro, also speaks Spanish. Chief Abbott asked him to negotiate a deal in which Juan Perez would be paid $400 if he waived his right to sue the city. Castro also told Perez to sign a release saying he would not sue the department.

At a separate news conference on Monday, City Attorney Robert Bartolotta said a number of mistakes had been made, beginning with the failure to begin an investigation immediately.

Bartolotta said going forward, the city will ask for outside officials to review incidents within the department.

Jimmy Delgado is the attorney representing Juan Perez. He was unavailable for comment today. We hope to speak with him tomorrow.

Special thanks to WSLR Radio in Sarasota for providing the sound for this report.

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