Gay bar customers fight back, claim officers used excessive force
Discrepancies between witness and deputy statements
Gay bar customers fight back, claim officers used excessive force Video by fox4now.comvideo
FORT MYERS - Tonight, customers of a Fort Myers gay bar firing back by filing complaints against the two deputies they say used excessive force. And now the Sheriff's Office is launching a formal investigation. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason digging deeper tonight, uncovering more discrepancies in this case.
Seven people filing complaints against the two Lee County deputies, who they say, used excessive force. It happened earlier this month at The Office Pub , a Fort Myers gay bar, when customers say deputies charged them in the bar's parking lot, guns drawn.
Pam Anderson says, "I've never had a gun drawn on me ever." The bar’s owner, Warren Miller recalls what happened next, “Then they said get on your knees (expletive) or we will shoot you."
At the time, deputies Scott Hill and Marsha Sutphin were serving a warrant at Babe's Gentlemen's Club in Fort Myers when they heard gunshots coming from the area of The Office Pub next door. But the seven people who were in The Office Pub parking lot say the sound wasn't from a gun, it was a car door being slammed.
Deputies ordered all seven customers to the ground but Robert Ortiz is handicapped and couldn't get to the ground so deputy Hill shot him with a taser. And Bill Broccio claims deputy Sutphin slammed his head on the ground, causing injuries.
Miller says the incident changed his view towards officers, "I feel like a victim every time I'm around the law enforcement here, they make you feel like a victim."
Now Fox 4 has obtained the deputies' reports and there seem to be some discrepancies. Deputy Hill reported he tazed Ortiz after telling him to "get on his knees" but Ortiz "turned towards the open door" of his car instead.
Deputy Sutphin also writes Ortiz was tazed after he "turned toward the open door of his vehicle."
But the deputies' Sergeant later submitted his sworn statement claiming Ortiz was tazed because he "started to reach into his car" for his cane and deputies thought he may have been grabbing a weapon.
Mike Mason asked the group of bar patrons, "Is that true?
The group replied, "No, it's not true, no"
Miller and the other witnesses all claim Ortiz, "never turned away from the officer, he never reached in that automobile." Ortiz says, "The cane was in my hand the whole time."
The Sheriff's Office claims the differences in the reports are common and don't prove the deputies did anything wrong that night. But witnesses say officers over-reacted.
Pam Anderson was there that night and says deputies are, "Supposed to be the ones protecting us and I didn't feel safe that night at all."
The two deputies involved have only been with the Sheriff's Office for a few years. We are told they've never had disciplinary actions taken against them.