Police brutality in Riviera Beach too severe?

By Chuck Weber

Posted by Rachel Leigh email

RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A 16-year-old says he was walking in Riviera Beach when an officer stopped him, threw him to the ground, and broke his jaw.

Now, the teen's parents and their lawyer are calling on the State Attorney's office to investigate police brutality in Riviera Beach.

Sitting in his lawyer's office in West Palm Beach, LaQuan Wright showed us the places where his jaw is broken and wired shut. While LaQuan can't talk much; however, his lawyer can.

Attorney Richard Ryles said LaQuan has a 3.2 grade point average and was a starter on the Palm Beach Gardens High football team last year.

Ryles says the high school junior was just minding his own business on the evening of August 2. He was walking on Congress Avenue to his grandfather's house. Ryles says the officer flashed his lights from behind, jumped out, and slammed LaQuan to the ground face first.

After LaQuan showed his identification, Ryles says the officer realized he had the wrong guy and took off. But LaQuan's jaw was broken, likely causing him to miss most of the upcoming football season.

"I couldn't understand why," said LaQuan's father Rodney Wright. "Why? Why? Cause that's the question he kept asking me, 'Why?'"

The youth's mother, Lakesha Wiggins, added, "You know they always try and tell us to talk to our kids, and to tell them to obey the law. And, then, when you do that, look how it comes back on you, the type of stuff Riviera Beach did. And it's not right."

Asked if he recognized or knew the police officer, LaQuan indicated he did not. His parents have filed a complaint with the police department, but they still do not know the name of the officer.

Ryles also represents 37-year-old Dexter Paulk, who says in January, two Riviera officers broke his leg before realizing they had the wrong guy.

Ryles said he will send a letter to State Attorney Barry Krischer asking his office to convene a grand jury to look into police brutality in Riviera Beach. "Our concern is making it safe for the citizens of Riviera Beach and making sure the city operates as a lawful police department and not like a group of thugs," said Ryles.

"There is not a problem with police brutality in Riviera Beach," said city spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown. Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams declined requests for an interview.

Brown says both incidents Ryles mentioned are under investigation, and, because they are, she is unable to comment. Brown says the city welcomes scrutiny and will cooperate should an outside agency investigate.