An Orlando police officer who stands accused of punching and kicking a handcuffed veteran in March and then lying about it has been fired, Police Chief John Mina announced Wednesday.
Officer William Escobar is now facing two counts of misdemeanor battery and two counts of misdemeanor perjury as a result of his actions during the March arrest of Refus Holloway, a military police officer, according to a story from the Orlando Sentinel.
“It is our responsibility to protect the great reputation of the Orlando Police Department," Mina said during a news conference. "Therefore effective [Wednesday], William Escobar was terminated from the Orlando Police Department."
The firing comes weeks after prosecutors announced they were bringing criminal charges against Escobar, claiming he lied while reporting his version of the arrest.
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Escobar said under oath that he jumped on Holloway’s legs because Holloway was trying to kick him. Escobar also said he tried to subdue Holloway by hitting him in the upper back but missed.
“I proceeded to deliver two closed hand fist strikes to Holloway's back, but since he was attempting to stand up, they ultimately struck him on the upper back, neck or shoulder area,” Escobar said, according to records obtained by WESH News.
Holloway, who said he was simply trying to break up a fight when Escobar and other officers showed up, was arrested and charged with battery of a law enforcement officer.
Assistant State Attorney Angela Wood said she decided to drop the charges after a cellphone video of the incident, shot by Holloway’s sister, Luciarae Fripp, surfaced in June.
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“I remember the arrest report saying (Holloway) was resisting,” Wood said in the investigative report explaining why she dropped the charges. “The video shows something, I believe, very opposite. I have to prosecute things in good faith. And I could not prosecute that in good faith.”
Prosecutors say the video evidence proves Escobar was lying about the incident and that he used excessive force while arresting Holloway.
During an internal affairs investigation into the matter, Escobar was asked why his version of events differed from the video.
“The way I told you the incident happened, that's the way I remember it. Obviously I can't dispute what the video shows,” Escobar is reported to have told the investigator.
“The Orlando Police Department takes all allegations of excessive force very seriously and these matters are thoroughly investigated,” Mina said Wednesday. “The actions of Officer Escobar that night do not reflect the overall actions, performance and behavior of the Orlando Police Department or our commitment and dedication to keeping this community safe.”