Occupy Tampa member injured during October arrest has charge dropped

05/15/12 Seán Kinane
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Last fall when members of Occupy Tampa continuously occupied a sidewalk in front of downtown’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, police made dozens of arrests – most of them for misdemeanor trespassing; but early in the morning on October 28, three people were arrested on more serious charges.

Two of them were charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and a third, Karel Soucre, was charged with obstructing or opposing an officer.

Soucre was one of the camera operators filming the scene and the videos show him hitting the ground after a blow from Corporal L. J. Miles.

Soucre’s charge was dismissed Monday and today I spoke with him about the arrest.

“Well that night we had a good crowd there. We went to march and we to Curtis Hixon and we stayed there. It was raining that night so there were a couple of tents on the sidewalk. The police officer came to remove the tents and I was filming so he decided to put me under arrest for no reason.”

“Did he push your camera? Is that what I saw in the video?”

“Yes, I was there. But I wasn’t doing anything. He came to me and he pushed me and I fell to the ground. I went to the hospital and I spent four hours in the hospital. Then I went to jail with the charge of obstruction of justice.”

“You had a court hearing yesterday. Tell us what happened at that court hearing.”

“Yes, yesterday finally the attorney’s saw a couple of videos last week. It looked like the videos contradict the police report so they decided to drop the charges yesterday.”

“You were injured you said. You spent some hours in the hospital and you were seen in a neck brace after that. Do you plan on trying to get the police to pay for your injuries?”

“Yes, I’m trying to get the city or the police department or whoever is going to be responsible for this, to pay for my medical bills. My case is not done. This is just one phase. I’m trying to take some actions back for what happened. I’m going to be filing against internal affairs. I’m going to be filing against the department. This is just one part of the process.”

“You were born in Venezuela; you grew up in Chile as well. Now you’re applying for U.S. citizenship and you’ve been granted political asylum in the U.S. How do you think this arrest could affect you getting citizenship?”

“For now that looks like a big deal but at the moment that I have to apply for citizenship this is going to be something that can delay my process. It’s going to take extra questions, extra paperwork.”

“Finally, for the two people that were arrested that night, Keith Cuesta and Stephen Gentile, they were charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. Where do there cases stand?

“Right now they’re taking a program and I think when they finish that program the state is going to reveal if they’re going to drop the charges or not. So they’re in this program and they’re waiting. So now that they dropped the charges, maybe this will open a new door for them.”

Here's all of our Occupy Tampa coverage.

First arrest:

Following the first impact with Karel on the ground:

Stephen Gentile's arrest:

Police leave the scene:

Aftermath of the arrests:

Protester's reaction to arrests: WMNF News

Arresting officer's license plates:

OpenLetterNews.org has two videos of the police officer coming at Sourcre. He is holding the video camera in one of the videos.

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