Jessica Mooney of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, filed a lawsuit against the Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD) this week after officers allegedly brutally beat and sent her to the hospital with head trauma following a wrongful arrest.
Mooney, 26, believes the officers targeted her for the testimony she provided in a police brutality case from 2015. The lawsuit includes pictures of her gruesome injuries—her left eye swollen and her left arm covered in bruises.
When asked whether his client thought the alleged assault was payback for her testimony in court against a police officer, attorney Robert Selig told news sources that he plans to at least bring it up in the suit.
“I don’t know,” said Selig. “I really don’t know. The facts will have to come out during the trial. But it is just a fact, that she was a witness in that case, and it’s a fact that this then happened to her.”
According to news sources, the police brutality incident Mooney witnessed occurred on February 22, 2015. She was seated at a bus terminal with her fiancé when an officer identified as Victor Ramirez was patrolling the area.
Ramirez, who has a history of using excessive force, encountered a homeless man identified as Bruce LaClare at the terminal trying to use the restroom. Officer Ramirez attempted to force LaClare to go back outside. He reportedly grabbed LaClare’s arm, which he shook off, then the officer shoved him to the ground.
“You’re not going to go pee,” Ramirez told LaClare. “You’re not supposed to pee here.”
Ramirez then purportedly slapped LaClare across the face. The officer omitted striking LaClare in his arrest report. He was unaware that Mooney’s fiancé filmed the entire exchange, which went viral on social media.
“My fiancé, as soon as he saw Officer Ramirez put his gloves on, he knew something was going to happen, so he started to record,” Mooney told news sources. “Once the officer slapped him and threw him on the floor, I couldn’t believe it happened. My stomach was in knots.”
Officer Ramirez was suspended without pay following the incident. Despite the video evidence of his actions, he was ultimately found not guilty of any wrongdoing in March 2016.
Just over a week after Ramirez was acquitted, Mooney ran into FLPD officers once again. This time it was after she left the Quarterdeck Restaurant with her child, according to the filed lawsuit. Someone at the restaurant called the police to report her for failing to pay a $63.57 bill. However, Mooney had paid her bill, and she included a copy of her receipt in the lawsuit as evidence.
FLPD officers arrived and arrested her on petty theft and child endangerment charges. The officers took Mooney to the station, where they reportedly beat her. The officers claimed that she yelled obscenities at them and tried to hit one of them, but surveillance footage from the jail cell reportedly refutes their story.
One of the officers, identified as Officer Amanda Moreno, “smashed [Mooney’s] face” onto a fingerprinting machine, and then several other officers allegedly began punching and kicking her as she lay on the ground.
It is unclear if the officers who allegedly beat Mooney knew she recently testified against an officer in court. None of the officers were charged for the alleged beating.
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