Matthew Eisenberg, a Broward County, Florida police officer, was arrested Tuesday after he was accused of punching a homeless man in the face during an arrest, news sources indicate. Eisenberg, 39, was booked into a Broward County jail on charges of official misconduct, falsifying records, and battery. He was later released on an unspecified bail bond amount. It is not yet known whether Eisenberg has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
Reports say Eisenberg worked as a police deputy at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office before his arrest. He does not seem to have record of previous violations. Whether he will be permitted to retain his employment pending trial remains to be seen. A spokesperson from the department said that “sometimes hitting a suspect is justified, but when it’s not justified, that can’t be tolerated.”
The incident in question occurred nearly one year ago, in November 2011, sources say. Eisenberg was out on patrol when he noticed a man asking people for money. The man was later discovered to be homeless, reports say. According to reports, Eisenberg asked the suspect to come over and talk to him, but instead the suspect allegedly turned and headed the opposite way. Eisenberg caught up with the suspect and took hold of his arm, reports say. A struggle ensued and resulted with the officer handcuffing the suspect and placing him in his patrol car. Upon his arrest, Eisenberg purportedly told the homeless man that the duffle bag he had been carrying would not be going with him to the jailhouse, to which the man replied, “well, Broward County can buy me a new one.” In response to the comment, Eisenberg allegedly punched the restrained man in the face.
The Broward County Sheriff’s office said in a press release that another deputy, who wishes to remain anonymous, reported the misconduct. Eisenberg, however, did not face charges until recently, as the victim had moved to Texas after the altercation.
Eisenberg is not the only officer to face misconduct charges in Broward County these past few months. In September, several officers with the Hollywood, Florida police division were faced with possible misconduct charges after a teen driver accused them of using excessive force during his arrest. Alex Cabrera, 17, was arrested after he led police on a dangerous chase through downtown Hollywood. During his apprehension, surveillance footage showed several officers pummeling Cabrera to the ground and allegedly pinning him by his neck.
According to reports, the incident occurred on August 14 when officers in Hollywood attempted to pull over a black Chevrolet. Officers stated that instead of pulling over, the vehicle sped off, prompting officers to follow, reports say. Police also reported that during the chase, Cabrera collided with officer’s cruisers one time before speeding off again. The purported collision did not result in any injuries.
Cabrera did stop at one point and officers surrounded his vehicle. Surveillance cameras located near the scene recorded the police officers arresting the suspect. In the video, an officer can purportedly be seen kneeing and punching Cabrera during his arrest. Another officer is said to have used his knee to pin the teen by his neck, reports say. Following the arrest and allegations, the Hollywood Police Department launched an investigation into the purported misconduct. The investigation is ongoing.