Mother of man beaten by St. Johns County deputy says there is a pattern of abuse at agency

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


ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The day after State Attorney’s announced they are pressing charges against a former St. Johns County deputy for beating an unarmed man last year during an arrest, the victim’s attorney and his mother are speaking out about what they are calling a pattern of police brutality in St. Johns County.

Attorney John Phillips points to mug shots of white men in their 20s who he said were each badly beaten during their arrest by St. Johns County deputies.

Cell phone video recorded by a bystander showed St. Johns County Deputy Anthony Deleo beating and tasing Christopher Butler last December during an arrest along County Road 210. 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

Butler, who was pulled over for driving erratically, was hit with a police baton 19 times and tased 10 times, according to Phillips and mother Teri Morgenstern. According to authorities, Butler would not cooperate during a traffic stop.

“He had a broken nose they broke his shoulder his elbows his wrists and he has nerve damage where he can’t feel his thumb or forefinger in his dominant arm,” Morgenstern said.

Not only is Butler’s mother and lawyer asking people to come forward with more information about this case, Phillips said the beating is part of a dangerous pattern.

″It’s not just a Black issue, it’s a significant black issue, but some Sheriff’s Offices have gotten away with this and they are doing this to everybody,” Phillips said. “There are a lot of tough questions that we need to ask about why they have so many mugshots on their website and so many people calling us that fit the description of being a white male in their 20s that have significant bruising to their face.”

Butler’s mother wants the other officers at the scene of her son’s beating charged with a crime as well.

“Beating a human being with a metal baton 19 times, tasing him 10, kicking him in his face twice and for as long as the beating went on, that wasn’t an officer search trying to arrest someone, that was a beat down,” Morgenstern said.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Chuck Mulligan said once a lawsuit is filed, the agency will respond appropriately.

He also said all of the officers involved in the handling of Chris Butler’s case had been disciplined.

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.

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