VPD Says Officers Followed Procedure, Attorneys Argue Excessive Force is Still in Question

Venice Police cleared of wrongdoing in controversial arrest

VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - The Venice Police Department conducted an internal inquiry after video showing a controversial arrest was released to the public.

Some say the video shows excessive force during an incident that took place last December outside of the Motel 6 in Venice. The Venice Police Department says it shows that the suspect was resisting arrest and that the department found the officers followed procedure.

However, attorneys for the defendants argue that it proves the complete opposite.

"We still believe that there were illegal and unconstitutional actions by the Venice Police Department and officers on the scene, and that it was just a gross overreaction that could’ve been solved by simply asking some questions,” Michael Barfield, President of the ACLU Florida Chapter, explained to us.

According to the report, motel staff said John Fegley told them to not let Ethan Waters into his room. Fegley gives a different version of events. He said Waters was staying with him at the motel and was not a burglar, and entered the room through the window because he did not have a key.

"Mr. Fegley and Mr. Waters intend to bring civil action against the city for false arrest, excessive force and a number of other claims,” Barfield said.

The Venice Police Department said the suspect was actively kicking while on the ground, so they believe the amount of force was reasonable considering all of the factors involved. However, attorneys for the defendants say that the department’s findings are meaningless in a civil courtroom.

"It would be like us making a finding that the police officers acted badly. We can say that, but it doesn't get us anywhere in a court of law. What we have to do is prove our case, and we think we will be able to do that because the video is rather clear and we believe any juror will see that in the trial will prove that they acted unreasonably,” Barfield explained further.

Fegley and Waters plan to sue the Venice Police Department within the next few months.

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