Fort Lauderdale Cop Slaps Homeless Man Across Face Who Sought Use of Public Restroom: Video

fortlauderdalepoliceFORT LAUDERDALE — A video released online shows a Fort Lauderdale police officer slapping a homeless man across the face after he sought to use the restroom at the public bus station, adding to existing concerns over the city’s questionable treatment of the homeless.

The video begins by showing the man, Bruce Leclair, walking through the Broward Central Bus Terminal, while nine-year veteran police officer Victor Ramirez follows behind, putting on a pair of blue disposable gloves.

Moments later, Ramirez approaches Leclair and reaches out for his arm. Leclair pulls away, and after a few seconds of dialogue, Ramirez shoves him to the ground. Leclair curses at the officer.

“Relax. I am telling you right now what’s going to happen,” Ramirez states. “I’m escorting you out right now.”

“I want to go pee,” Leclair replies.

“You are not going to go pee,” Ramirez responds. “You are not supposed to be here.”

He then tells Leclair that he will put him in the police car if he resists, and orders him to get up off the ground. Seconds later, Ramirez slaps the homeless man across the face. The sound of the smack cracks out, and the person recording the incident gasps.

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“I’m not [expletive] with you. Don’t [expletive] touch me,” Ramirez snaps. “Put your hands behind your back.”

Leclair is taken into custody and transported to jail, where he was taken in on trespassing charges. He was later released.

“I have the utmost respect for law enforcement officers,” Laclair told the Sun-Sentinel following his release. “Usually they see you doing something wrong and they tell you to stop. But this guy, he has personal problems.”

According to reports, video of the incident was shared on Facebook, and soon made it to the desk of Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Franklin Adderley. Adderly then placed Ramirez on paid leave pending an investigation. A press conference was held about the incident on Tuesday, during which time City Manager Lee Feldman called the video “clearly disturbing.”

But Feldman was also asked during the conference whether he believes the city has a track record of mistreating the homeless as other incidents have been reported in the past.

“Does the city have an image problem when it comes to homeless issues, would you say? And does this contribute to that?” the reporter asked.

“I’m not sure we have an image problem,” Feldman replied. “We have problems of misperceptions of how we treat the homeless. … We’ve said from the beginning that transients in neighborhoods that don’t have proper shelter or proper facilities cause an issue in perception of safety.”

He said that Ramirez was policing the bus terminal because “there were safety concerns at that bus terminal.”

The Fort Lauderdale City Commission states that its mission is “to represent the public interest, promote quick, courteous response to residents’ problems, provide leadership and direction for the City’s future, and assure the present and future fiscal integrity of the municipal government.”

As the Fort Lauderdale Police Department was also contacted about the video footage, Officer Pete Haritos, who was sued in 2012 for allegedly shooting a dog, advised to “look up the Florida state statues on police officer use of force, and then look at the video again, and you’ll probably get some answers to what transpired there.” When asked for further clarification whether he believed Ramirez’ actions were justified, he paused and said, “Well, I’m not going to give you any information on that. [The higher ups] are entitled to tell you whatever they want to.”

Fort Lauderdale has come under fire in recent years for its restrictions on feeding the homeless, even to the point of arresting those who violate laws requiring that feeding stations be away from residential areas and include portable toilets. In December, Broward County Judge Thomas Lynch issued an order banning the city from enforcing the law, which carried punishments of “up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500.”

In January, the Fort Lauderdale branch of Food Not Bombs filed a lawsuit over the regulations as it had been feeding the homeless each week in Stranahan Park. Two others who regularly feed the homeless, 91-year-old Arnold Abott, who made headlines after being arrested in November, and Episcopalian Mark Sims, who was among the first to be charged, have likewise filed suit.

“What the city is doing by cutting out feeding is very simple: they are forcing homeless people to go dumpster-diving all over again. They will steal,” Abbott told reporters following the incident. “That’s what the mayor is forcing the homeless to do.”

“[The homeless are] being chased all over the city from one side of the railroad tracks to the other,” local activist Jeff Weinberger also told Local10 News following the release of the recent video. “We happened to catch the incarceration of two homeless men today who were resting in an empty parking lot.”

Food Not Bombs, the Peanut Butter & Jelly Project and Love Thy Neighbor held a rally earlier this month in an effort to oust the current mayor, Jack Seiler, who supports the current regulations. Seiler has been silent about the Ramirez-Leclair situation and was absent from Tuesday’s press conference.

Some businesses have stated that the homeless take away from the economy and tourism.

Warning: Profanity

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  • Brandi Avery

    that cop needs to lose his job…………..

  • bowie1

    Where did the cop think this homeless man should have a pee…on the sidewalk??

  • Mircea Volosen

    A city with the democratic party leadership.

  • GibbyD

    That officer better be in jail and charged with assault. Not only should that cop lose his job but the homeless man should sue him .

  • Frank

    That cop needs to be behind bars for armed assault and battery and lose his rights to own firearms.

  • jr

    they shd fire that policeofficer he is a disgrace

  • The Last Trump

    “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry,
    and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a
    stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and
    you looked after me. I was in prison, and you visited me.

    Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you? Or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and go to visit you? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say
    unto you, inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these brothers of
    mine, you have done it to me.” Mathew 25:31.

    Wow. I don’t think we’re going to like the new godless America very much. It’s no wonder that She is falling apart on so many levels having become completely unrecognizable from Her former self. What a shameful display of brutality towards another human being. Says a lot about a society by the way they treat their young and their elderly. Those among them that are the most vulnerable. Disgraceful. America has lost Her way.

  • sammy13

    Illegal aliens, having invaded our country, are treated better. They are not considered trespassers, they receive tax payer provided medical care, food and monetary benefits, and the progressive Marxist compassion of Obama. America’s moral compass has been destroyed. What a country. God bless this homeless man.

  • Jack Rohde

    With cops like that, soon bums will own and run the town, oh they do anyway what am I thinking, like Seattle just bums with nice suits, that decide things the voters don’t want, like that stupid tunnel that’s going to collapse the Seattle underground.

  • Evelyn

    It would not surprise me if the homeless guy was a vet. I live near Daytona Beach and there are a lot of homeless vets near there. It is so sad. 🙁 That cop was just showing his authority over someone less fortunate than him.

  • Richard French

    Hopefully soon this cop gets the ass-whoopin he has coming.

  • Timothy Lamb

    He should not have slapped, that’s some weak sauce. Now I am bettithe homeless guy had some plan for going to bathroom. Even if just to annoy officer. You really have to understand the b.s. cops hear everyday

  • Ecila L Rodariv

    I hope his not coming back to work in the Police force.

  • Ecila L Rodariv

    That cop is a f**ing coward! He needs to be behind bars.

  • Phipps Mike

    ““You are not going to go pee,” Ramirez responds. “You are not supposed to be here.”

    the “not supposed to be here” is the meat of this incident. WHY was he not supposed to be there? was he loitering there before and was told to stay away from that area?
    I hold my opinion until I get that answer.

    • spurgeon687

      Fort Lauderdale has made it illegal to sleep in public by passing anti-camping ordinance and placing trespassing signs all over the place. The homeless are sleep deprived as the police hound them and there are trespassing signs at the few public bathrooms they can use. The city has million dollar homes ,yachts, and tourist dollars and they want the playground all for themselves with an unhindered view as they sip their martinis. The homeless shelters and mental facilities are full, and affordable housing is lacking. with all the wealth Ft. Lauderdale poverty rate exceeds the national level and when their people lose their homes they jail them only making it more difficult to find work or get into apartments. They can always accuse the homeless of “loitering” because they have no place to go. Ft. Lauderdale needs to take some of their riches and help their poor residents not criminalize their poverty.

  • AnnetteMarieHuneault

    that break my heart the way that stupid cop and I say stupid cop how he treated this human being. shame on you and i hope you lose your job. you have no business working as a police officer and treated people like this. you make the reast of the cop look bad.