[WATCH] Lawsuit Says Sheriff is to Blame in Handcuffed Woman’s Beating

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The beating of a handcuffed woman by a Jacksonville police officer that caught national attention last year has spurred a lawsuit that the woman’s attorney said will expose an unacceptable culture within the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that runs from the top down.

Mayra Martinez was assaulted by JSO officers three times in one day, and was beaten so badly while handcuffed in the Duval County jail sally port that she was knocked unconscious.

That beating was caught by JSO’s own surveillance cameras, and the officer who hit her, Akinyemi Borisade, was fired and charged with misdemeanor assault. He pleaded no contest and adjudication was withheld, meaning if he keeps himself out of trouble, he won’t have a permanent criminal record.

Martinez’s attorney, John Phillips, filed a lawsuit Friday against the city, the sheriff’s office and Borisade on her behalf. The suit is critical of Sheriff Mike Williams, blaming him for tolerating what it calls a pattern of illegal excessive force in the department.

“There are a lot of things, we think, in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s policies, that need to be readdressed, and if it needs to be done through a civil lawsuit, so be it,” Phillips said.

In the lawsuit Phillips said that by not properly investigating such incidents, it sends a message to officers that excessive force is OK, which leads to even more incidents.

When Borisade was interviewed by the Integrity Unit, he was asked if officers are allowed to hit suspects in handcuffs, and he answered, “Yes,” according to the lawsuit.

Phillips cited the number of JSO officers arrested in recent years as evidence of a problem.

Martinez was at her first day of work at Scores, an adult club on University Boulevard near Philips Highway, when she refused to leave and police were called.

Officers said she was drunk and that when they tried to take her into custody, she resisted. Her violent arrest in the parking lot, which involved a take down and hog tying, was caught on camera.

Borisade later shoved Martinez against a wall in the sally port and after she appeared to try to kick at him, he struck her several times while she was still handcuffed, knocking her out cold. She was taken down a third time that day when officers tried to remove a nose ring from her face. Both those incidents were also caught on tape.

“There was a use of force here that was wildly inappropriate,” Phillips said. “Cameras don’t lie, so to speak.”

He said Martinez’s case points to what he called internal problems that allowed abuses to occur.

Three other officers who watched the sally port assault are also named in the lawsuit, which Philips said will ask the city about its policies and procedures.

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