A West Palm Beach, Florida police officer was arrested on Tuesday after being accused of using excessive during an arrest in 2019.
Officer Nicholas Lordi, 34, turned himself in and was charged with aggravated battery in connection with an arrest outside of a convenience store on November 1, 2019, according to court records. He was released on a $5,000 bond Wednesday morning.
Lordi is accused of punching 65-year-old John Monroque 11 times, breaking his nose and jamming his knee into the victim’s head for approximately 14 seconds.
Officials said the encounter, which was caught on surveillance video from the store, started when Lordi and another officer attempted to arrest Monroque for trespassing after a warning at a West Palm Beach convenience store.
According to investigators, Lordi used excessive force on Monroque in the process of arresting him by punching the victim in the head and face multiple times, then placing his knee on the man’s head after he was handcuffed.
Monroque stated in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) report that his forehead was “slammed into the hood of the police car” and he had trouble remembering what happened after that, as he had become “unconscious”.
Monroque was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center where doctors said he sustained a “closed fracture of [his] nasal bones.”
In the FDLE arrest report Lordi said Monroque was “disrespectful” and was “fighting, pulling away, and not listening to commands.”
In the arrest report Lordi also stated that Monroque tried to grab the second officer’s gun magazine, and the “officers had to use force.” He said that once Monroque was on the ground, he “wouldn’t put his hands behind his back” so he delivered a few “softening strikes” to the man’s face.
The FDLE said surveillance video evidence contradicted some of Lordi’s statements.
“I feel good now. It’s justice,” Monroque told reporters at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, saying he forgives Lordi.
Monroque added that, more than two years after the incident, he suffers from headaches and has a “serious back problem.”
“They did what they wanted to do,” Monroque said. “I was shocked. That was awful. He jumped on my back and punched me in my face.”
Lordi’s personnel file from the West Palm Beach Police Department shows that he has been involved in 15 use of force incidents and has been disciplined five times and has received four citizen complaints, according to WPTV.
WPTV also reported that Lordi was written up and ordered to retrain just two weeks before the Nov 1 incident after it was determined that he violated the department’s “arresting procedures” for not turning on his body camera.
The West Palm Beach Police Department released the following written statement Wednesday:
“A use of force investigation was initiated by the West Palm Beach Police Department immediately following the November 1, 2019 incident. The investigation was based on the evidence available at that time. When additional evidence was discovered, the West Palm Beach Police Department requested an outside investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The West Palm Beach Police Department is committed to accountability and transparancy for the citizens we are sworn to serve. Nicholas Lordi was placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the court case, pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement.”
Adam Myers, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in West Palm Beach, released a statement Wednesday saying in part:
“The Fraternal Order of Police stands firmly behind Officer Lordi. The actions he took in 2019 were fully justified. Officer Lordi feared for the life and safety of himself, his partner, and the public as a violent felon was trying to take an officer’s weapon. It is a sad day when a police officer is arrested for protecting his life and the lives of others during his duty. At the conclusion of the legal process, we are confident Officer Lordi will be vindicated.”
It is not yet not clear whether the second officer involved in the Monroque’s arrest was disciplined.