Commissioner Reacts to Video of Brawl

By Al Pefley  email

West Palm Beach, FL (WFLX)

A bar brawl breaks out at CityPlace.

An off-duty officer and a young woman threw  punches at each other.

What does a city commissioner think about the way the officer handled himself?

We gave West Palm Beach city commissioner Molly Douglas a look at the surveillance video of the scuffle at Blue Martini.

The video shows a fight June 5 at Blue Martini, a bar at CityPlace.  The incident started inside the bar, when a young woman says she brushed up against an off-duty West Palm Beach police officer, Joseph Rizzo.

Words are exchanged and at one point she throws her drink in his face. And then the video shows there's some shoving and although the video is hard to make out, at some point she allegedly smashed him in the nose with a martini glass.

Moments later, outside the bar, the scuffle breaks out again as you can see from another surveillance camera, showing Rizzo and the young woman.

Bystanders appear to move in and try to break it up.

"Did the officer go too far? I guess we're gonad find out aren't we. I don't like to see an officer push anybody but I also don't like to see an officer with a glass broken across his face," Douglas told us after watching the video.

The woman in the video Barbara Rutledge, 24, of Lake Worth was charged with aggravated battery, but the charge was later dropped by prosecutors.

Douglas says the video is grainy, and based on what she sees on the video it's hard to draw a conclusion about whether Officer Rizzo acted properly that night during the scuffle.

"We don't know yet what happened. And when that internal investigation is complete we will know and I know, have great faith that our chief will take appropriate action," Douglas said.

Douglas says she's been told that police have a better version of the video that shows more clearly what happened.  She plans to go to the police station to watch it.

By the way, West Palm Beach Police chief Delsa Bush and Mayor Lois Frankel  both declined our request for an interview, saying they could not comment because of the ongoing police internal affairs investigation.