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Ft. Pierce Police Officer Resigns for Punching Man, Second Officer Arrested

A police officer resigned from the Fort Pierce Police Department late last week, after being caught on camera punching and slapping a suspect at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center.

The incident took place on February 20.

“It is a sad state of affairs that I am before you today,” Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney said.

Chief Hobley-Burney added that police officers and crews with St. Lucie County Fire Rescue found the 38-year-old man unconscious and intoxicated on Okeechobee Road.

Officers took him to the hospital for an evaluation, where the man apparently continued to be combative and made threats, as well as using racial slurs, to Officer Monica Frederic, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

Hobley-Burney explained that 31-year-old Officer Albert Eckrode punched and slapped the suspect, who was not in handcuffs, at that point.

The suspect ended up with an injury to his upper lip that required stitches.

“Things that you saw on the video is not tolerated and we will not allow anyone that wears the badge of this department to do such actions to any citizen,” the police chief said.

Eckrode, who is a K9 handler with the department, was placed on leave the day of the incident and faced termination. However, he decided to resign instead.

“This was a criminal act. This type of behavior will not be tolerated,” Hobley-Burney explained.

She added that the FDLE determined Eckrode broke the law.

Courtesy: City of Fort Pierce/WPEC

Police arrested him on felony charges of battery and official misconduct, and a misdemeanor charge of writing a false report to a law enforcement officer of an alleged crime, according to jail records.

He posted bond on Thursday night.

“I want the public to understand that we addressed this immediately. We took immediate action because we want them to know that everyone will be treated with dignity and respect,” Hobley-Burney said.

In addition, 27-year-old Officer Monica Frederic faces a charge of filing a false report of the commission of a crime. She has been on unpaid leave since March and is also facing a termination hearing.

Both officers turned themselves in on Thursday, the FDLE said. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit.

Eckrode was named Fort Pierce Police officer of the month in July of 2016, the year he joined the department.

Frederic has been with the police department for a year.

A third officer who was at the hospital during the incident did not take part in the battery or contribute to the falsified police report. He will not face criminal charges, but may face disciplinary action.