ACLU claims Venice Police used excessive force

Sarasota County

The president of the ACLU of Florida wants a criminal investigation into a December arrest that was caught on dash camera.

“We want police officers to be held accountable,” said ACLU of Florida president Michael Barfield.

On the morning of December 21st, Officers David Creasy and Victor Montanez were dispatched to a Motel 6 on US 41 Bypass N. A maid had noticed 19-year-old Ethan Waters entering a room through a window.

When officers arrived, they quickly recognized him from the description. The officers immediately confronted him and pinned him to a wall and tackled him to the ground.

In the dash cam video, Waters can be heard screaming- “Whoa! Whoa! Hey, you guys don’t have this right!”

When he’s pinned against the police car, Waters yells- “I’m an innocent citizen and I live in America! You guys have to tell me what’s going on!”

Barfield explained that Waters had not done anything wrong. Waters and a friend had booked a room at the motel, and in lieu of an extra key, they had told management that Waters would enter the room through the window.

“They had cleared it with management for him to enter through the window, the manager knew that, they approved that, they knew Mr. Waters was staying there” said Barfield. “Hotels are private property, they can make whatever arrangements and satisfy them with their guest.”

Waters was not charged with burglary. Instead he was charged with obstruction/resisting arrest.

The probable cause affidavit states- ‘the defendant was acting aggressively toward Officer Creasy and I by posturing, tensing and not complying to officers commands to put his hands behind his back and trying to evade arrest.’

“Anyone who looks at that video can see that Mr. Waters wasn’t resisting arrest and we want police officers held accountable, that’s all,” said Barfield. “A police officer is not above the law and they need to be held accountable by this chief.”

“It struck me very raw, in high definition of an innocent person, an American citizen, being summarily arrested without any probable cause or even a reasonable suspicion,” said Barfield.

Venice Police Chief Tom Mattmuller tells News Channel 8 that the department is investigating the incident. He has assigned an officer to throughly review the events that transpired that day, from the use of the vehicle, to the arrest, to the behavior of the officers. 

Waters is currently behind bars on an unrelated drug charge. A manager at the Motel 6 was not available for comment.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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