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Ex-St. Johns County deputy charged after man beaten during traffic stop

Christopher Butler was severely injured during his arrest on Dec. 29, family says

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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – An ex-deputy with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, who was seen on video beating a man during a December traffic stop, has been charged with aggravated battery, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar in March filed a criminal charge of aggravated battery against Anthony DeLeo for his use of force against Christopher Butler. DeLeo was fired from the Sheriff’s Office. The charges were sent to the State Attorney’s Office for review, and DeLeo surrendered to authorities Wednesday.

The two videos were recorded by a witness and given to Butler’s family.

UNCUT CELLPHONE VIDEOS (caution, some viewers may find these videos disturbing): Part 1 | Part 2

Family told News4Jax that Butler was severely injured by deputies after he was pulled over for driving 15 mph on Interstate 95. Attorney John Phillips, representing Butler, said Butler was going through a medical episode when he was pulled over.

Video of his arrest, captured by a witness and a state trooper’s dash camera, shows that over a nearly four-minute span DeLeo hit Butler 19 times with his baton, and kicked him in the head twice, while Butler was sitting on the ground offering little resistance.

After DeLeo hit and kicked Butler, minimal effort was made to handcuff Butler, according to a warrant affidavit.

“Based on the actions of (DeLeo), the gratuitous amount of force applied and the extent of injuries sustained by the victim; probable cause was established for the charge of aggravated battery,” the warrant affidavit stated.

According to authorities, Butler would not cooperate during a traffic stop.

After he was pulled over on County Road 210, a witness captured what happened next on his cellphone and shared it with Butler’s family. Teri Morgenstern, Butler’s mother, shared the video with News4Jax.

In the video, Butler can be heard screaming and moaning when he was shocked with a Taser several times. Later in the video, DeLeo comes at him with a baton.

“They beat him like he was nothing. Like he wasn’t a human being,” Morgenstern told News4Jax.

In the report from the Sheriff’s Office, investigators said Butler was being uncooperative and was not responding to commands. They believed he was on drugs because it appeared to them the Taser had no effect, according to the report.


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