Fort Pierce police officer on leave after hitting child with patrol car

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 7:00 PM EDT
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NewsChannel 5 has learned a Fort Pierce police officer has been placed on administrative leave after, police said, he hit a child on a bicycle with his patrol car, never reported it and then lied about it.

According to a police report WFLX obtained from Port St. Lucie police, a mother called the police department concerned after her son said an officer hit him with his patrol car, while riding his bicycle near the intersection of Southwest Becker Road and Savona Boulevard in Port St. Lucie.

The child said the officer got out of his patrol car, asked the child if he was OK, offered him a Band-Aid, and then left after the child said he was all right.

The report said Port St. Lucie officers interviewed the child and the mother and said based on the child's description of the officer's patrol car and uniform determined the officer involved in the accident was with the Fort Pierce Police Department.

Officers then determined from surveillance video and GPS technology inside the department's patrol cars that Officer Erik Arellano was in the area of the crash moments before it happened.

Officers said when they went to confront Arellano, they noticed his front bumper had scuffs on it. When they asked him if he was involved in an accident, officers said Arellano said no, he was not.

When officers asked him why his bumper was scuffed, they said he said he "did not know how the scuffs got there," and denied being involved in the accident a second time.

Officers said when they asked a third time, telling him he matched the description the child provided, they said Arellano admitted to hitting the child.

WFLX reached out to Fort Pierce Police, who declined an on-camera interview, but did release to us the following statement:

"We are aware of the incident involving Officer Erik Arellano and it remains under investigation by our Internal Affairs Division. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. We take situations such as this quite serious and our investigation of this incident will be extremely thorough. Along those lines, we will be able to comment further once our investigation has been completed. In the meantime, all questions regarding the incident should be directed to the PSL Police Department."

According to the report, the child told police his hip was a little sore from falling and that he had scrapes on his right elbow, but other than that was OK.

Neighbor Debbie Johnsen told WFLX she has lived in the neighborhood not far from the accident site, and said she was shocked when she heard what happened.

“It's a good neighborhood, we’ve had no issues or anything," Johnsen said. "It's scary, very scary. I was really shocked, because we’ve never had anything like that happen out here.”

Johnsen also said she's very supportive of the police department and is thankful both are taking the investigation seriously.

"I support our police department, I have no issues," Johnsen said. "I think it's great they’re right on top of things.”

Johnsen also added she's thankful the child is OK.

“Amen for that. Thank God," Johnsen said.

WFLX also tried to reach Arellano multiple times for comment via phone and email but did not hear back. WPTV also knocked on the door of his home but nobody answered.

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