The police department in Springfield, Illinois, released body camera video on March 20 of Officer Samuel Rosario engaging in a fight with an unidentified 19-year-old man while on duty on Feb. 27 (video below).
Police said Rosario and a second officer were answering a domestic disturbance call that involved a teenage girl who allegedly hit her mother and broke a table, notes WRSP.
After Rosario told the mother that her daughter could face charges for criminal damage, the 19-year-old said the girl should face more. Meanwhile, the second officer searched for the girl, who had fled the scene.
Rosario and the young man exchanged racial slurs, obscenities and taunts that escalated into a fight, reports The State Journal-Register.
During the fight, Rosario was filmed punching the young man at least 11 times. After the altercation, Rosario told the second officer not to arrest the 19-year-old, but asked if he should do it again.
The backup officer told his supervisor about the incident, which prompted the police department to ask the Illinois State Police to open a criminal investigation.
Rosario was subsequently charged with battery and official misconduct; the 19-year-old man was not charged, according to police.
Rosario pleaded not guilty to the charges. The official misconduct charge is a class 3 felony, which could mean two to five years in prison, or probation, if Rosario is convicted; the battery charge is a misdemeanor.
Rosario's lawyer, Daniel Fultz, said on March 20: "[The state's attorney] made us aware the videos were being released today, and I hope people look at the video in its entirety before making up their mind and understand that being a police officer is a difficult job."
According to the police department, Rosario is on unpaid administrative leave and has been stripped of his police powers. He is originally from Fort Worth, Texas, and served in the Army Reserves.
Rosario posted bail after his arrest.
Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow told WRPS his officers are trained to ignore those who antagonize them:
What we expect from our officers is extreme patience, restraint, and there's a certain amount of this type of action that officers endure every day. And with that, you have to be able to have self-control...
The video is disturbing. The officer's actions. We're taking this matter very seriously. The video is not indicative of the hard work of the men and women at the Springfield Police Department. It's not how we're trained to handle certain incidents.
WARNING: This video contains graphic language and violence.