Jacksonville man claims police brutality

Published On: May 22 2013 04:01:04 PM EDT
Updated On: May 23 2013 06:20:58 AM EDT

An Orange Park man is threatening to sue the City of Jacksonville if he doesn't get answers to what he describes as police brutality.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A man says he may sue the city of Jacksonville if he doesn't get answers after he says he was the victim of police brutality.

Larry Lawton said that in January he was pulled over at the McDonald's on Eighth Street in Springfield by a Jacksonville police officer who then proceeded to kick him while he was handcuffed. JSO has launched an internal investigation.

Lawton said he didn't resist and wasn't causing any problems but was still beaten up. Another woman driving by -- who called 911 -- also says the same thing.

"I'm standing just like this. I turn my head to ask them if I'm being arrested," Lawton said. "Upon me doing so, I immediately get kicked twice on the lower part of my back, which is the actual spot where I had my surgery, and there was a huge hole there where it was impacted with gauze for the bleeding. And then he threw me in the police car."

Lawton said he doesn't know why he was pulled over in the first place, but admits police did find a small amount of marijuana in his car. He said he cooperated with the officers, but still, Officer Julio Cerpa (pictured, right) kicked him just weeks after he had surgery.

"I never fought back. I never resisted or anything," Lawton said.

Lawton isn't the only one to complain about what happened. A woman who was driving by called to report what she felt wasn't right.

"I want to report police brutality on a citizen," she told a 911 dispatcher. "Next thing you know, he just kicked the boy, and he said get your 'A' in this car."

"That shouldn't go on in front of my kids with someone that's supposed to protect us. That's not right," the caller said.

Lawton said he refused to tell the supervisor what happened because he felt threatened. But he went to a police substation and filed a form detailing what he says happened.

A spokeswoman with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said a supervisor was sent out to get a statement from Lawton, but he refused because he didn't have a lawyer present. So after 72 days, the Internal Affairs investigation was closed. But Lawton has since gotten an attorney and has contacted police again.

"Now that the complainant is wanting to talk to investigators, the case has been reopened and is active," JSO said in a statement.

Lawton says he wants people to know about what happened to him so it doesn't happen to anyone else.

"I honestly felt less than an animal that day for me to be kicked upon by a police officer," Lawton said.

Lawton was never taken to jail, only given a citation for marijuana possession and not having a driver's license on him. He said those charges were dropped.

Police couldn't comment any more about his allegations because it's against their policy to talk about an open case.

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