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Another comes forward to accuse St. Johns County deputies of excessive force

Father says St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office deputies crossed the line when arresting his son

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A second complaint against a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office deputy was confirmed Tuesday, a day after News4Jax first reported that three deputies were placed on paid leave after video showed a man being repeatedly struck during a traffic stop.

Bryan Sweeney Jr. said that he too was injured by deputies while they were trying to arrest him. Sweeney Jr. remains in jail but his father, Bryan Sweeney Sr., spoke to News4Jax about the accusation.

According to an arrest report from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Sweeney Jr. resisted arrest and tried to run from deputies last month.

“If he struggled for his life it’s because he was scared for his life and didn’t know who it was at first,” Sweeney Sr. said.

Deputy Tony Deleo was involved in the arrest of Sweeney Jr. and the arrest of Christopher Butler, a man who was seen on video being struck repeatedly and shocked with a Taser during a December traffic stop. Deleo is on administrative leave amid the internal investigation into the brutality allegations against Butler. The Sheriff’s Office said Deleo’s actions in the Sweeney Jr. case are also the subject of an internal investigation.

Sweeney Sr. believes that Deleo and other deputies went too far in subduing his son.

Sweeney Sr. said his son was on probation right before the holidays and didn’t want to turn himself in. Records show Sweeney Jr. had violated felony probation and was a known violent gang member.

Deputies finally caught up with Sweeney Jr. in December at a Howard Johnson Inn in St. Augustine. It was there that deputies found Sweeney Jr. and his girlfriend sleeping in a car shortly before 4 a.m.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies told Sweeney Jr. and his girlfriend who they were, that’s when Sweeney Jr. woke up and reached for the ignition. Deputy Deleo then used his baton, broke the window, got the door open and Sweeney Jr. began to resist, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sweeney’s father defended his son’s actions.

“He said at first he was trying to get away. He didn’t know who it was at first, he said,” Sweeney Sr. said. “They thought they were going to kill him is what he said.”

According to the report, when Sweeney Jr. resisted, deputy Nicholas Converso gave a closed fist strike to the left side of his face and various vascular neck restraints but Sweeney kept fighting and a 12-inch knife fell out of his waistband. Eventually, Sweeney Jr. was put in handcuffs and evaluated by paramedics.

His booking photo shows a black eye but his injuries were considered minor.

“My son might have been in trouble, but nobody deserves to be beat like that to where they Taser him and continue to beat him,” Sweeney Sr. said.

Deputies said they believed Sweeney was going to use the knife against them.

Sweeney Sr. said he believes that the Sheriff’s Office should invest in body cameras for the safety of deputies and the people they are arresting.

Sweeney Jr. remained in county jail Tuesday and waits for the chance to defend himself in court. He’s accused of assaulting two deputies and resisting with violence.


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