'I don't need a search warrant,' Cocoa officers investigated for use of force, false arrest

Officer George Menendez faces termination, Jerry Nava resigns after suspension

COCOA, Fla. – Two Cocoa police officers are no longer working with the department after an internal investigation into allegations of excessive force and false arrest.

Cocoa police said on Feb. 19 officers George Menendez and Jerry Nava responded to a fight with a possible stabbing at the Village Green Apartments on Dixon Boulevard.

According to the internal investigation, the two officers used excessive force falsely arresting a woman after a scuffle inside her apartment.

"I don't need a search warrant," Menendez said to her children who were screaming and crying, rationalizing that the woman, who the report referred to as the mother of the suspect, was obstructing his investigation by not answering questions.

The report stated Menendez also felt justified to threaten the woman by putting his Taser against her face.

Caprellia Stewart, 16, who lives at the Village Green Apartments said the woman being falsely arrested was her neighbor and cut her hair.

"One of them had a Taser to her head," Stewart said. "She was sweating so if she had been tased she would have been done for."

Stewart said after pressing the Taser to the woman's face, Nava used his Taser on her.

"He was like, 'Step back, step back.' As soon as I stepped back, he tased me," Stewart said Nava continued using the Taser on her while she was on the ground

The nine-page internal report continued that once back at the station, Menendez was caught on his body camera calling the woman profane names.

News 6 obtained Menendez's disciplinary file and found he was cited for violating policy and procedure a half-dozen other times.

The internal report stated Menendez admitted he was wrong and Nava said things never should have escalated how they did.

"I'm happy something happened to him," Stewart said.

Menendez is facing termination, while Nava resigned after a two-day suspension.

Following the news, the president of the Cocoa chapter of the National Action Network will ask city leaders to create an independent citizens police review board.

Rev. Johnnie Dennis has pursued his cause in other Brevard Counties unsuccessfully in the past year.

"We would recommend that anybody committing a crime and violating policies, that their certificate for practicing law enforcement be terminated," Dennis said.

City hall will be the location of a public workshop on creating a possible citizens review board June 18 beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The Cocoa Police Department could not release the body camera video because it is confidential in this case.

About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.