Reprimanded Cocoa Beach officers ‘escalated’ arrest of man sleeping on bench

‘You can shut up and listen or you’re going to end up in handcuffs,’ officer told man

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Before Jonathan Hosmer was pepper sprayed and restrained by his ankles, Cocoa Beach police say Officer Matt LaFleur was right to check on the 30-year-old after he fell asleep on a bench in front of the Tropics bar last summer.

Body camera recorded Hosmer telling LaFleur he was drinking with friends before falling asleep.

As Hosmer awoke and cooperated showing he was coherent, the police said LaFleur and Officer Emilio Rosa should have let Hosmer walk away instead of making an arrest.

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“You can shut up and listen or you’re going to end up in handcuffs,” Rosa is heard saying on body cam.

LaFleur told Hosmer to shut up as the suspect replied, “For what? I don’t have my rights?”

In their letters of reprimand, Lt. Manny Hernandez wrote officers LaFleur and Rosa broke the department’s code of conduct.

“His refusal to assist in finding his friends did not mean he was unable to make rational decisions with regards to his own care,” LaFleur’s letter read.

The text of Rosa’s letter included, “your temperament when interacting with the subject escalated the encounter which led to him being placed under arrest.”

Hosmer’s charges of battery on police, resisting and disorderly intoxication are now dropped.

“I feel like they just took it too far, used and abused their power,” Hosmer said in an interview Wednesday. “It was terrifying because I couldn’t move. It was traumatizing.”

Hernandez said the reprimands will be added to the officers’ disciplinary files.

“We reviewed the incidents with the officers and let them know our checks and balances and what they can do and how they can handle situations differently,” Hernandez said.

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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.