FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – It’s the slap heard around South Florida—cell phone video captured Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Victor Ramirez smacking Bruce LaClair, a homeless man, across the face.READ MORE: Crime Experts: Notebook Found Near Brian Laundrie's Remains May Answer Questions In Fiancée Gabby Petito's Death
Ramirez made his first appearance in court after being charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery and one count of falsifying records.
“We’re not going to discuss the facts of the case today. It’s a pending case and we’re early in the discovery process. It wouldn’t be appropriate to go into facts of the case at this point,” said Mike Dutko, Ramirez’s attorney.
The video, captured by a witness at a downtown Ft. Lauderdale bus depot, shows what appears to be Ramirez striking 58-year old Laclair.
LaClair claims he had to go to the bathroom but Officer Ramirez would not let him and pushed him to the ground.READ MORE: Florida Elections Supervisors Say Democracy ‘Under Threat’
In the video, Laclair is seen walking in front of the officer. Then Ramirez puts his hand on Laclair. When Laclair tries to pull away, Ramirez appears to shove him on the ground. Laclair then shouts an obscenity and tells the officer he needs to use the restroom. “You’re not going to pee. You’re not supposed to be here, OK? So get up,” Ramirez is heard saying in the video. Another exchange of words ensues, and that’s when the officer is seen slapping Laclair. Laclair was then handcuffed, taken to jail, and charged with trespassing.
While Ramirez’s attorney is not talking about the allegations against the off-duty officer, he does say he’s concerned with the case.
With the death and arrest of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and the chaos that followed, along with the shooting in South Carolina, where an officer fatally shot a fleeing man in the back, Dutko is afraid these incidents could have an impact on his case.MORE NEWS: Annual Money Sought For Florida Keys Protections
“If you’re asking me, this is a difficult time within which to be a police officer,” Dutko said. He believes the police officer-involved incidents across the nation “does complicate” things in his case.