Three South Florida police officers are on administrative leave from the force after posting bond this week. All three cops are being charged with a string of beatings that targeted immigrants.
Officer Giovanni Soto, 40, Sgt. Lizanne Deegan, 44, and Sgt. Jeffrey Rome, 56, are all believed to be involved in a rash of incidents that started as early as February 2011.The Homestead Police Department officials were brought into custody this week after arrest warrants were filed following the culmination of a year-long investigation that involved the FBI and local law enforcement, during which all three officers were placed on extended paid leave.
According to Internal Affairs Detective Antonio Aquino, on February 6, 2011 Sgt. Rome attacked a man outside of Celio’s Latin Quarter Bar in Homestead, FL near Miami, a known hangout for Spanish-speaking migrant workers. The establishment had been rigged with undercover surveillance cameras due to a human trafficking investigation, which also caught the cop on film allegedly beating a man with a metal baton. The footage has also been described to the media to show Officer Sotto involving himself in the attack. The victim allegedly called 911 for assistance after the incident, to which Sgt. Deegan was dispatched to file a complaint — the officer did not follow through, though.
The detective adds that video footage shows Sgt. Rome grabbing a 69-year-old man by the collar and dragging him on the ground during a separate April 2011 incident. “As the man lay motionless on the ground, Sergeant Rome is seen kicking the man in the head,” the warrant reads. Additionally, Sgt. Rome is also being charged with pepper-spraying another Hispanic man outside the same bar on April 17. Detective Aquino writes that the 24-year-old victim was refused entry to the bar, but tried to come in anyway after being nearly robbed outside. When he asked the authorities for help, he says Sgt. Rome pepper-sprayed him three times with what the detective describes as “the strongest pepper spray and tear gas mix available for non-military use.”
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