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Lee County Sheriff's Deputy beaten while making arrest at gas station

Posted at 12:13 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 00:13:08-04

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — A man and woman are facing charges after cell phone video showed them beating a Lee County deputy during a traffic stop.

According to the sheriff’s office, it happened Sunday evening at a Speedway gas station in Lehigh Acres.

It’s a video that has done the rounds on social media. A Lee County deputy being beaten while trying to make an arrest- all captured on a cell phone. It’s a situation one law enforcement expert tells me, could have been handled a little differently by all of those involved.

“I’m not surprised which, I think, would shock people for me to sit here and say that," says David Thomas, Professor of Forensic Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Dr. Thomas- a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University- knows the situation all too well. Thomas, a former police officer, spent years on the force… even witnessing a similar event first-hand. Performing what seems to be a routine traffic stop- which suddenly leads to something more.

“If you look at assaults and look at against officers and look at the number of deadly assaults that have occurred over these past couple of years, things have really changed,” says Thomas.

The deputy seen in the video pulled over the driver- Jezan Deralus- for driving with a suspended license. According to the arrest report, when the deputy walks up- he smells marijuana coming from the car.

“When you’re dealing with this, what you’re looking at is from the prospective of I don’t see this as a problem," said Thomas. "And this is something I should be able to control without me having to call for back up. I guarantee you that’s how it got started and it just went downhill from there.”

That’s when Diaundra Brown- a passenger in the car- gets out and hands the deputy a smoking pipe. According to the arrest report, she then becomes irate and shoves the deputy. As the deputy tries to place her in handcuffs, Deralus comes up behind the deputy and starts punching him. The deputy- as seen in the video- uses a stun gun on both suspects.

“He tried to use his hands and he did a pretty good job of fending him off, but he took some pretty good whacks and- at some point- you have to stop the threat and that’s what he did using his taser to stop the threat," said Thomas. "It was a very legitimate use of force.”

The deputy calls back-up and is later assisted. According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the deputy was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital and is going to be okay. But what happens moving forward?

“If they are trained properly and if their readiness is at a particular level where it should be, I think it becomes the norm," says Thomas. "They should always expect the unexpected.”

And for those who witness such an event- there is something they can do.

“They can pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1 and say this is the location," said Thomas. "If nothing else comes out of this, people need to understand that is probably the greatest service they can do for law enforcement when they’re involved in and see an incident like this.”

Brown and Deralus are both facing charges of resisting an officer with violence and battery on an officer.