We have another case of a citizen cleared of a charge after review of a videotape. Officer Derek Middendorf of the Melbourne Florida Police is shown in the tape attacking Albert Flowers, 66, without provocation. As shown in the video below, he not only attacked Flowers but tried to disable his dash camera before the attack. After Middendorf assaults Flowers, another officer tasers Flowers in the face.
Flowers was charged with two crimes that appears facially at odds: assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest without violence. Presumably, he first attacked Middendorf and then resisted without violence. The first problem is that you can be charged with resisting without violence, a crime so ambiguous that it invites abuse. The second problem is that he didn’t assault Middendorf.
Middendorf’s report says that ““Flowers walked towards him in an aggressive manner” and “refused to stop at a safe distance.” So that is justification for kicking him in the groin and proceeding to beat him down?
Middendorf thought that he had disabled his camera but the film was able to be extracted later.
What is astonishing is that statement of Wayne Holmes, chief of staff for the Brevard State Attorney’s Office, when his office belatedly dropped the charges: “although there is probable cause to support the legality of the arrest, a full review of the in-car video, the written reprimand by the Melbourne police of their officer’s actions that prevented an audio recording, and the documented mental health history of the defendant would not support a successful prosecution.”
In listening to Mr. Holmes, it is easy to see why Melbourne officers think that they can assault citizens. “[P]robable cause to support the legality of the arrest”? Exactly where does Holmes see that? Middendorf spent most of his time trying to disable his camera and barely spoke to Flowers before assaulting him. Holmes gets this week’s Anita Alvarez Award For Willful Blindness In The Face Of Police Abuse.
Now here is the real kicker. Middendorf is still on the force and there is no indication of discipline for assaulting the man. He was disciplined for tampering with the camera. Why wouldn’t an officer be simply fired for tampering with a camera before an assault? How about firing him for the assault or the less than truthful police report?
Source: Florida Today