WKMG Orlando - May 19, 2011
A woman's teeth are broken in an incident with an Orlando police officer.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A veteran Orlando police officer is under investigation after Local 6 News started asking questions about surveillance video that shows the officer using an "arm bar" technique on a 100-pound woman whose teeth were broken after she landed face-first on the ground. The video, captured by a city camera and obtained by investigative reporter Mike Holfeld, shows Officer Livio Beccaccio taking 20-year-old Lisa Wareham by the left arm before she hits the pavement. Wareham was initially charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest but Local 6 learned Friday, the state attorney's office dropped all the charges against her. Her attorney, Andrew Zelman, said they plan to file a lawsuit on Monday against the officer and the Orlando Police Department. The incident happened Feb. 25 around 1:45 a.m. in the 100 block of East Central Boulevard across from the Orlando Library and was caught on video by an Innovative Response to Improve Safety (I.R.I.S.) camera mounted at Magnolia Avenue and Central Boulevard. The incident broke Wareham's front teeth. "It happened so fast. I was so scared. There is no way to describe it," she said. Wareham, a single mother who was out with her friends at the time of the incident, said she could not believe what happened. "I went to sit up and I felt something in my mouth. I spit (my teeth) out. I didn't even know what to think," she said. Wareham said there was a disturbance nearby and a man was shoved into her. She said as she was questioning the man as to why he bumped into her, Beccaccio led her away and hurled her to the ground. Beccaccio's police report said, "Wareham, with her right hand, reached across her body and smacked me several times in my right hand and arm." Video shows an Orlando police officer taking a woman down to the ground. The video shows Beccaccio holding Wareham by her left arm, and she ends up on the pavement in less than 10 seconds. Wareham never appears to resist or try to strike Beccaccio, the video shows. In the official report, Beccaccio writes, "Wareham stumbled forward and fell to the pavement." Beccaccio was there responding to the disturbance, but the video shows the scene to be calm when Becacccio and other OPD officers arrived. Zelman said OPD has had the video since at least March. According to Zelman, nothing was being done about the case until Holfeld's investigation into alleged excessive force cases involving the Orlando Police Department aired Monday night on Local 6. OPD Lt. Barbara Jones sent an email to Holfeld on Wednesday confirming that the incident "is being reviewed and under official investigation." Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he wants all the facts but assured Holfeld there would be no double standard. "We investigate our own and if there is cause to punish somebody, then those actions are taken," Dyer said. Incoming Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney said Friday the OPD investigation began days ago. He would not comment on the case specifically, citing that it is an ongoing investigation.
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