01/19/2012

Video: Fla. officer's taped scuffle fuel for lawsuit

Officer: 'The defendant refused to comply'

By PoliceOne Staff

MELBOURNE, Fla. — A lawyer who says his client was beaten by a Melbourne police officer notified the city of his intent to sue Tuesday, citing dash cam video as evidence for his claims.

Officer Derek Middendorf confronted Albert Flowers, 66, who was arrested after police answered a call of a disturbance involving an edged weapon in October, according to Florida Today. Police suspected Flowers, who reportedly has dementia, had pulled a knife on a fellow lawn care employee earlier.

In the video, Middendorf restrains Flowers after he "instructed the defendant to stop several times in a loud and clear voice," as he said in a written report.

"The defendant refused to comply," Middendorf said. "I had to react and protect myself in fear he was going to attack me. … Not knowing if he was still armed or not … I struck the defendant in the face to distract him."

Another officer reportedly used his TASER on Flowers, striking his upper body as Middendorf attempted to control him. According to police records, a commander said the use of force was justified, but questioned whether Middendorf followed protocol in initially handling the situation before backup arrived.

Middendorf was reprimanded for tampering with the dash cam as it was discovered the camera was turned off, though authorities were able to retrieve the footage. Police did not open an internal review, sources said.

"Information regarding the arrest of Albert Flowers was sufficient to indicate that an internal investigation was not warranted," Melbourne Police Chief Steve Mimbs said Wednesday. "Officer Derek Middendorf is a valued officer whose record since joining the department in 2005 reflects the fact that he has done a very good job for the city."

Attorney Paul Bross said Middendorf, who remains on leave for an unrelated injury, should be fired, citing false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

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