Her kicks seem to hardly connect. But his punches certainly do.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida said it fired and arrested one of its own this week after the officer repeatedly struck a handcuffed woman in a jail, an incident authorities caught on film. Probationary patrol officer Akinyemi Borisade, 26, had been with the sheriff’s office for just over a year when the incident occurred this past Wednesday.
“When we see an officer do something like this, we have to respond quickly,” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told reporters Friday. “We are accountable to the community for how these officers act. They are accountable for their actions.”
Soundless video of the incident released by the sheriff shows the woman — 31-year-old Mayra Martinez, according to the Associated Press — with her hands cuffed behind her back slowly walking toward a group of officers. One of them steps forward and grabs her by the shoulders, guiding her in an apparently forceful manner toward a wall. After her back hits the wall, he steps away and she kicks at him twice, appearing to only connect on the second attempt. Then he lunges at her.
The officer takes at least three swings at the woman’s torso, as several other uniformed men stand by. One of them walks over as he then pushes Martinez into a corner and appears to say something to her. As they walk away, she leans back against the wall and then slides down to the ground. After a few seconds, she drops her head, slowly lowering it until her forehead appears to rest on the ground, the men around her seemingly unfazed by what happened.
Corrections officers notified supervisors about the incident, launching the internal investigation, Undersheriff Pat Ivey said at a Thursday news conference. Borisade had an unblemished record up to the incident, Ivey said, adding that the officer clearly mishandled the situation.
“He could have turned her around and held her in a transporting position that they are trained in, back over to the location to wait by the door. He could have stood there with her. But there was no need to strike her,” Ivey said.
Ivey said the victim did not report the incident but that Borisade’s arrest arose from the internal investigation.
Martinez was arrested following a dispute at a strip club where she had begun working on Wednesday, the Florida Times-Union reported, citing an arrest report. The manager told police that Martinez had four shots of 100-proof liquor, quit, was disturbing patrons in the parking lot and refused to leave.
The arresting officers say they instructed her to leave and she refused. When they went to arrest her, she pulled away and started swinging her arms, according to the report. Borisade reportedly struck her in the back until she stopped resisting, although she would later kick on the way to and inside of the patrol car, according to the report.
Dashcam footage recorded by a witness and shared with the Florida Times-Union purportedly shows the arrest. In it, two officers can be seen wrestling with a woman on the ground. One of them, apparently Borisade, repeatedly strikes her while she is on the ground. She can be heard repeatedly screaming “I didn’t do anything to you.”
At a Friday news conference, Williams, the sheriff, defended the use of force in principle.
“Listen, sometimes you have to get aggressive with people. It’s not inappropriate for officers to punch people, at certain times,” Williams said. “But obviously there’s got to be a lot of factors in place for that to happen.”
Officers may use “enough force to overcome the resistance,” he said. But, to him, Borisade crossed that line in the dashcam video.
“Clearly I have concerns in watching that video, and that’s part of the ongoing investigation,” he said. Williams also said his office plans to investigate the other officers present in the jail video, whether they could have seen the attack and, if so, why they didn’t intervene.
Because of his probationary status, Borisade may not appeal his firing, although he may ask for a name-clearing hearing, Ivey said on Thursday. If he succeeds, then he may work for another law enforcement agency, Ivey said.