A Florida police officer has been fired after an internal review found he used excessive force on a 13-year-old boy who had been involved in a fight at a youth shelter.
Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter said that 33 year old Michael Leonardo made mistakes that “cannot be overlooked” when he responded to the call on April 2nd.
Surveillance video shows Leonardo spin and attempt a take-down move on the boy, who staggers but remains standing.
The former cop then wraps his arm around the teen’s upper torso and flips him to the ground, landing on top of him.
‘It did cause some injury to the juvenile which included a broken nose, some abrasions to the face, and two chipped teeth,’ Chief Slaughter told reporters.
The teen is 5-foot-6 and 150lbs, and Leonardo is 5-foot-8 and 200lbs. With two other officers there for backup, Leonardo had other options that the bodyslam, the chief said.’The best quote I could give you, that he shared with me was: “After reviewing the video I do see that I had better options”,’ Slaughter said of Leonardo.
After putting the youth in the back of a police cruisers, the officers apparently notice he is bleeding and pull him out of the car.
The video then shows the kid rolling on the ground as the officers stand above him waiting for an ambulance, a scene Slaughter called ‘not something I’m really proud of’
Leonardo is a military veteran who served eight years in the armed forces, including two tours in Afghanistan, the chief said.
‘This is one of the most displeasurable points of my job, is having to stand before you and discuss this,’ said Slaughter.
‘But what I am proud about is that we’re being open and transparent about it and have taken corrective action.’
Leonardo told investigators he thought the boy was trying to escape and that the boy said he tripped on his shoe, which could have come across as resisting the officer.
Two backup officers were given training and counseling for conduct after the takedown.