WPB police chief

By Al Pefley email
Posted by Rachel Leigh email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Police have just released some startling video in a beating case. The West Palm Beach Police chief says there's no doubt in her mind they used excessive force.

The video shows a man with a scarf over his face and armed with pepper-spray robbing a CVS Pharmacy in May, demanding oxycodone.

Moments later, a police squad car camera shows the same guy under arrest, handcuffed on the ground outside the drugstore, being kicked by two West Palm Beach police officers, Louis Schwartz and Kurt Graham.

The video shows a few seconds later the suspect is on his feet still handcuffed, and another West Palm Beach policeman, Jason Zangara, repeatedly punches the guy in the face.

According to the arrest report, the beating victim, Pablo Valenzuela of West Palm Beach, suffered a cut over his left eye and needed several stitches.

"To see this actually happens, obviously, I'm not pleased with it at all. We are held at a much higher standard than anyone else," said Police Chief Delsa Bush.

"It is our position that the force they used was proper. They feel they used that force necessary to diffuse the situation and only the force that was legal and proper. Period," explained Lawrence Fagan, a police union attorney that is representing the three officers.

Officer Graham resigned last month. The other two, Schwartz and Zangara, are on paid administrative leave. The police chief has not decided yet what discipline they will face.

As for Pablo Valenzuela, he is now on house arrest, charged with robbery with a weapon and aggravated assault on an officer.

According to the arrest report, he apologized for his actions and said he has had a drug addiction "for a long time."

When we reached him at home, he declined to comment and referred questions to his lawyer, Rudy Gurrola of West Palm Beach. Gurrola told us he may sue the police department for use of excessive force.