Technicians in Florida have recovered dashcam video of a Melbourne police officer beating a 66-year-old man who suffers from dementia even though the officer deliberately tried to disable the recording.
An attorney for beating victim Albert Flowers told Florida Today that his client was prepared to sue the city of Melbourne.
"He should be fired," attorney Paul Bross said of Officer Derek Middendorf. "Anyone who’s being pulled over by this officer should be terrified."
"It’s clear (Officer Middendorf) tried to destroy all the video in this case. He thought he had turned off the camera, and that’s why he acted the way he did."
The video clearly shows Flowers calmly walking towards the police cruiser before Middendorf suddenly delivers a kick to his midsection. Before Flowers is able to get up, the white cop drops to his knees and pounds his fists into the African-American man's face.
Flowers spent a month in the hospital after the encounter.
Melbourne City Attorney Paul Gougelman promised to review the video to see if the city had any responsibility to pay for Flowers' health care.
"What I urge everybody to do is stand back and let the dust settle," Gougelman said. "There is always more to the story. It’s always important to have a good working relationship in the community."
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.”
Middendorf indicated in his report that he used force against Flowers after the man did not obey orders to stop moving toward him. The officer had suspected Flowers may have had a knife.
"I had to react and protect myself in fear he was going to attack me," the report said. "Not knowing if he was still armed or not … I struck the defendant in the face to distract him."
Flowers’ dementia has worsened since returning home from the hospital, according to his granddaughter, Donna Jackson.
"The family’s just upset by the whole thing," Jackson explained. "We are glad they dropped the charges. We just want to move forward."
Watch this video from Florida Today, broadcast Jan. 19, 2012.