The man, who could not speak English, was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.
A man who was beaten bloody by an off-duty cop in a Walmart checkout line has been charged with assaulting a police officer.
The incident occurred on Sunday night at a store in Jacksonville, Florida, and was captured on cellphones by two witnesses.
According to an arrest report released by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, per News4Jax, 43-year-old Yoel Rodriguez and his family refused to leave the store after it had closed.
But according to his family, Rodriguez cannot speak English and likely misunderstood what the officer was telling him.
One of the videos show Rodriguez getting into a heated argument with the officer; the officer goes to grab his arms but he shouts in Spanish: “Let me go! Don’t touch me!”
The officer then punches the man square in the face; he keels over backwards and the officer jumps on top of him.
Rodriguez’s wife screams in horror as blood pours from her husband’s face. She frantically tries to stop the officer striking him, screaming for help, while trying to keep her stroller and baby out of the way.
Their young child jumps around in confusion, inches away as he watches the two men struggling on the ground.
As other customers offer to take the stroller out of harm’s way, Rodriguez’s wife desperately tries to explain to them “He speak Spanish! He speak Spanish!”
Switching to Spanish herself, she blurts: “They were going to close, he went back to get mandarins, my husband told the man that we were going to pay, we were already going to pay!”
The officer eventually yanks the man — who is now covered in his own blood — to his feet, wrenching his arm behind his back, cuffing him, and dragging him away backwards.
Witnesses told the site Rodriguez’s wife was waiting in line at the self-checkout line when he went back to get one more item and came back.
They said staff went to tell him that he couldn’t shop any more because the store was closing, but it was very apparent he could not speak English.
“I don’t know exactly what the cop said, but I think he was telling him he had to leave,” one witness said. “He wasn’t going to get to pay for his stuff. ‘I just need to pay. I just need to pay’.”
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“The cop kept trying to grab his arm and he was like, ‘Don’t touch me. Why are you touching me? Don’t touch me.’ And the cop just whaled back and just popped the dude in the nose.”
“That cop should have never been called. I think he’s 40 percent at fault because he punched the guy. But Walmart should have never escalated it to the point where they’re harassing one of their customers, just because he’s grabbing something extra while his wife’s waiting in line.”
As the videos show, there were several other people still in the store at the time.
Steve Zona, President of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, issued a statement defending the officer, praising him for not injuring Rodriguez any further.
“It is abundantly clear that the defendant in this case not only hit the officer’s arm but he was actively pulling away and resisting the officer,” he said
“We are thankful that the officer was able to overcome the resistance and prevent severe injury to the defendant, injury to himself, or injury to innocent bystanders.”
Rodriguez appeared in court on Monday with two black eyes and a broken nose. His family are now trying to raise his $7,500 bond.
Yoel’s nephew David Rodriguez confirmed his aunt and uncle cannot speak English, and that the family are seeking a lawyer to take the case as far as they can.
“They told me that the officer asked Yoel to leave but Yoel didn’t understand what was going on and he was just shopping. Honestly, I don’t understand why the officer did what he did,” he said.
“He’s a cop. He needs to be professional with how he deals with his job.”
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