A federal jury has cleared a Connecticut police officer of wrongdoing for stomping on the head of a man who was lying on the ground in May 2011.
The incident in Bridgeport, Connecticut, involving Officer Clive Higgins was captured on video by a bystander. The video shows a man — later identified as Orlando Lopez-Soto — lying on the ground while two Bridgeport police officers kick him. About 35 seconds into the video, Higgins arrives in his patrol car, gets out, and appears to stomp on Lopez-Soto's head.
The video surfaced in early 2013 and led to protests.
The other two officers involved in the beating, Elson Morales and Joseph Lawlor, pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor civil rights charges for their role in the incident, the Connecticut Post reported.
The beating happened after Lopez-Soto, who is Latino, fled from police and was subdued with a stun gun. Higgins is black.
After the the jury cleared Higgins, his lawyer told WSHU that the video was not clear enough to see exactly what had happened, whether the officer actually "landed a kick," and "whether what he did was justified by the circumstances."
Higgins has said that he "never did anything wrong," the Connecticut Post reported.
But others have criticized the jury's decision. Thursday, civil rights activists rallied in Bridgeport, with Connecticut NAACP President Scot Esdaile calling the verdict "a gross miscarriage of justice," the Bangor Daily News reported.
The case also has resulted in a lawsuit against the Bridgeport Police Department. Lopez-Soto, who is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for gun and drug charges, won $198,000 in a settlement last year, according to News 12.
Higgins is currently on administrative leave and the Bridgeport Police Department has filed disciplinary charges against him, the Courant reported Wednesday.
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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