(CNN) — A Fort Lauderdale police officer is suspended after video emerged showing him slapping a homeless man while he was off-duty.
The disturbing video has prompted an open investigation, and it’s taken a Fort Lauderdale officer off the streets and out of his uniform — all due to a slap heard loud and clear.
“That the video that Channel 7 provided us that you all have seen at this point is clearly disturbing,” Fort Lauderdale police said.
The officer is Victor Ramirez — a nine-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. This past Sunday, February 22nd, he was working an off-duty job at a bus stop near downtown Fort Lauderdale when it happened.
Fort Lauderdale police are now speaking out about the incident — thanking the television station that shared video of the incident shot by a witness.
“I want to start out by first thanking Channel 7. You brought this to our attention and we greatly appreciate the fact that we now get an opportunity to respond to this serious incident,” Fort Lauderdale police said.
The man who was slapped is Bruce Laclair — a homeless man who says he was asking the officer for one thing.
“All I was trying to do was use the restroom,” Laclair said.
Instead of a trip to the restroom, Laclair ended up in handcuffs with a trip to the slammer for trespassing. He has been told not to go back to the bus station.
Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale police say Officer Ramirez is off the job for now, with pay.
“We are now conducting an internal investigation. Part of that will be a first phase. We’ll be looking at a criminal allegation. Then we will be conducting an administrative review,” Fort Lauderdale police said.
Fort Lauderdale police say Officer Ramirez received use of force training every year. As for the city, they say this incident doesn’t help their already controversial image with homelessness.
Laclair says he hopes the shove and slap to the face ends with more than a slap on the wrist for Officer Ramirez.
“I’m pissed off. I don’t know what…I mean, most of the police officers around here are very reasonable, good people. They just have a job to do.This guy…I don’t know what his problem is,” Laclair said.