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Sheriff Grady Judd: Deputy punched cuffed suspect twice after getting spat on

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Posted at 4:58 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 18:03:56-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — A video showing a Polk County deputy punching a handcuffed suspect two times before placing him inside the back of a marked deputy cruiser is making the rounds on social media.

The graphic video, sent to ABC Action News on Thursday, shows a man wearing a neon green t-shirt, later identified as 20-year-old Fernando Jimenez, being taken into custody by two Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies.

As one of the deputies holds Jimenez to the back of the cruiser, the second deputy appears to have punched Jimenez twice before placing him inside.

One of the punches hit Jimenez in the head.

"I couldn’t block my face with my hands I was just trying to turn my face so I don’t get hit directly in the face but he still got me right here," said Jimenez.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the deputy punched Jimenez "whenever he was trying to get him under control."

Sheriff Judd said Jimenez spat on the deputy during the incident. Jimenez was later charged with resisting with violence and without violence, and battery for spitting on deputy.

Jimenez denies spitting on any deputy during the confrontation.

"In this day of age of COVID-19, HIV, hepatitis; how would you respond if somebody spit in your face today in the middle of this pandemic?" Sheriff Judd said.

Polk deputy punches handcuffed suspect twice in cell phone video

↓ WATCH VIDEO. WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE ↓

An eight-minute video, sent by Facebook user Unique Occena, captures what appears to be two separate fights prior to the arrest.

When the Polk County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene on Chestnut Road in Lakeland, one of the deputies can be seen speaking with the people who stayed at the scene.

A short time later, Jimenez walked over to an unmarked car and two deputies tried to take him into custody.

One of the deputies shoved Jimenez into the back of the unmarked car and a second deputy came in and placed Jimenez in handcuffs.

After the deputies placed Jimenez in handcuffs, he is walked to another marked cruiser and held near the trunk as a deputy worked to open the back door.

That's when it appears the deputy punched the suspect twice.

Sheriff Judd said he will do "a complete and thorough investigation on the incident."

Jimenez told ABC Action News the deputy who punched him crossed the line.

"I don’t think he should be working for the law if he’s going to be beating on people for no reason," said Jimenez.

Sheriff Judd said the cell phone videos from the scene will help with the investigation as some people were not arrested and deputies may go back if there are evidence of others committing crimes.

Officials have not identified the two deputies involved in the incident. Sheriff Judd said both deputies will be tested for coronavirus.