Cop gets written reprimand for turning off recording equipment when brutally assaulting 66-year-old man with dementia
By End the Lie
In yet another disturbing display of how police seem to be immune from responsibility for their criminal behavior, it has been revealed that a police officer in Melbourne, Florida turned off his patrol car’s recording equipment before beating a man “for no apparent reason.”
To make matters worse, if such a thing is even possible when dealing with a violent crime like this, the man was actually suffering from dementia and was 66-years-old.
This reminds me of another troubling case – also in Florida, and also dealing with a man over 60 years of age – the murder of Nick Christie.
In the case of Christie, the officers responsible for his tortuous death were cleared of all wrongdoing, and in the case of Albert Flowers, Officer Derek Middendorf was merely reprimanded.
Middendorf was not in fact reprimanded for beating an old man with dementia, in fact WFTV reports, “The only disciplinary record the officer received for the incident was a written reprimand for turning off the recording equipment.”
You may watch the raw video of the incident here, although I believe it to be unnecessary as it is so disturbing that the written description gets across the horror of it all well enough and I advise against watching it due to the truly graphic nature and how psychologically damaging such images can be.
Apparently the police now only have a problem with unwarranted violence against senior citizens when it isn’t recorded. Otherwise, it seems absolutely acceptable to them.
Before the beating occurred, Middendorf turned off his audio and video capturing equipment, a clear sign that he knew what he was about to do was not only wrong, but illegal.
The police department was later able to extract the video from the hard drive, but the audio was not recoverable.
The video shows Middendorf kicking Flowers in his stomach, then, while Flowers is on the ground, Middendorf repeatedly punched him, supposedly because Flowers was walking towards Middendorf in an aggressive manner.
This laughable justification is far too often utilized – or at least attempts are made at such – to explain brutal assaults against vulnerable persons at the hand of those who are supposed to protect and serve.
An example that springs to mind is the incident at the University of California, Davis, where a police officer attacked a group of young people with a chemical weapon (pepper spray) who were doing nothing more than sitting on the ground with their arms linked at their sides.
Later they attempted to claim that the officers were surrounded and feeling threatened, thus the use of force was justified.
This is similar to what Middendorf is claiming, although in this case he is saying that Flowers was moving towards him rapidly an “an aggressive manner” and Middendorf couldn’t tell if he had a knife in his hands.
This is like a cop claiming he was justified in beating down a child with a large jacked because the cop couldn’t tell if the child had an assault rifle under the jacket.
Sure, you can’t tell, but what leads you to assume that this individual would not only be carrying a weapon but using it against a police officer?
There is some justification for his concern that Flowers might have a knife, as the officer was reportedly called to the scene after an employee called the police because Flowers allegedly brandished a knife during an argument surrounding money.
The glaring problem with this justification is that when the police actually arrived the family said that the issue had been resolved and Flowers in fact never pulled a knife at all.
Garrick Flowers, the victim’s nephew, was present at the scene and says that he asked the officer to stop and informed Middendorf that his uncle has dementia.
“He’s 66-years-old, he had a triple bypass, I think he’s killing him,” Garrick Flowers said.
Flowers’ family said that Middendorf was choking the aging man and the recovered footage shows another police officer attacking Flowers in the face with a taser.
The family said as a result of the brutal assault Flowers was hospitalized for nearly a month.
The situation gets even more troubling when one considers the fact that not only was Middendorf merely reprimanded, but Flowers – the victim in this unfortunate debacle – was actually charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.
However, it is now being reported that prosecutors are saying they have reduced his charges “to a misdemeanor of resisting an officer without violence,” although to any rational person it is still an egregious injustice.
Under no circumstances is it acceptable for a human being to be brutally beaten and then not only is the attacker let off scot-free but to make matters even more ludicrous, the victim is charged with a crime.
This is simply unacceptable and hopefully the viral nature of this story will help pressure the prosecutors handling the case into not only removing all charges from flowers but actually charging Middendorf himself with assault.
Attorney Paul Bross summed up the absurdity of this case quite aptly and simply in saying, “It’s ridiculous.”
“Clearly from this video there was no assault on a law enforcement officer. We asked for a speedy trial. We want a jury to see this video,” Bross said.
Indeed, it is only logical to note that if Flowers was in fact a threat or Middendorf thought he might have a legitimate reason to use force, Middendorf would in fact want the audio and video recording.
This could only serve to help Middendorf and insure him against any false claims of police brutality.
But when Middendorf turned off the equipment – like far too many other officers who become hostile when being recorded and thus held accountable for their actions – he made it clear that he was well aware what he was about to do was wrong.
The police chief was not able to comment on the matter to WFTV on the excessive force allegations because he said he had yet to review the complaint, which was just filed on Friday.
I sincerely hope that Flowers will see some justice in this case, unlike Christie, who has a distraught wife who has been seeking justice ever since the horrific event occurred to no avail.
It is a grim statement of the times to have to do this, but at least we can say that Flowers wasn’t killed by the officer, unlike Christie who was not so lucky.
UPDATE: According to Raw Story:
Charges against Flowers were dropped by the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office after they learned about his dementia.
Middendorf was initially reprimanded for tampering with the recording device, but the city chose not pursue an administrative review at the time.
“Information regarding the arrest of Albert Flowers was sufficient to indicate that an internal investigation was not warranted,” Melbourne Police Chief Steve Mimbs said in a press advisory before the video was released publicly. “Officer Derek Middendorf is a valued officer whose record since joining the department in 2005 reflects the fact that he has done a very good job for the city.”