The ACLU says authorities in Sarasota, Florida are trying to harass the homeless out of town, based on a number of prominent incidents in the last few months, and the revelation that a pair of cops called each other "bum hunters." The trial of a homeless man, Roger Fields, at the center of one of those incidents, caught on video (below), began today. It featured testimony from the private security guard at the bus depot where Fields was arrested and the cop seen on video appearing to slam him face-first into a metal wall.
First, the guard's testimony, via the Herald Tribune:
In court today, [Robert] Sauder said, "He up and just spits in my face. Luckily I was wearing my sunglasses so I didn't get any in my eyes."
Sauder described Fields' demeanor as "very agitated, didn't want to listen and smelled of alcohol."
The 6-foot 4-inch, 290-pound security guard said he felt threatened by the 5-foot 8-inch, 143-pound Fields and forced Fields to the ground with a leg sweep. Sauder sat on top of him until police arrived, when Gilbert helped him up.
And the cop's:
Fields sat on a bench throughout most of his encounter with police, until [Officer Derrick] Gilbert walked behind him, withdrew his handcuffs and attempted to place them on the homeless man. Grabbing Fields by the arm, Gilbert quickly swung him face-first into the metal ticket booth, the video shows.
Gilbert testified that Fields "separated himself from me," during the handcuffing.
"He pulled back. I had a grab of his wrist and elbow. He had blood on him. I didn't want blood on me. As soon as he didn't comply, my job was to put him to the ground," Gilbert said. "Grabbing his right wrist and elbow, I tried to put him on the ground. He stands up and staggers and ends up hitting the ticket booth, injuring himself."
Watch the homeless man injure himself, as the cop, on paid leave while internal affairs investigates, testified: