Ocala officer suspended over accusations of falsifying report, unlawful arrest

The Ocala Police Department has suspended one of its officers without pay over claims he falsified a report when he arrested a man last summer.

Sergeant Horace Freeman's account of what happened during the arrest did not match what can be seen on body camera video, the department states.

According to documents released by the police department, Sgt. Freeman lied on a report and used too much force when he unlawfully arrested that man.  The man was charged with resisting arrest with violence and disorderly intoxication last summer.

Video shows Sgt. Freeman approach a man on a bench in the city last August.

“Take me to jail,” the man said in the video.

“Alright then, stand up, turn around,” Sgt. Freeman can be heard saying in the video.

The man turns around, is handcuffed and then asks the officer what his charges are. The man is told he is being charged with “open lodging and disorderly intoxication.”

The internal investigation shows Sgt. Freeman did not have probable cause to arrest the man, because he was not open lodging and was not endangering anyone by being on the bench.

According to an internal affairs report, Sgt. Freeman claims the man called him an offensive name and cursed at him when he asked him for identification. The report said that did not happen because the video shows the man sleeping as the officer approaches him.

Later, the video shows the officer calling for backup, saying he is in a “22 physical.” Ocala police investigators said that call means the officer is in a fight. The video then shows the officer taking the man to the ground.

“Sir, I didn’t do nothing,” the man says in the video.

Ocala police said that the use of force was not necessary because the body cam video shows the man and the officer were not in a fight and that the man already had handcuffs on when he was taken to the ground.

Charges against the man in the video were dropped and Officer Freeman was suspended without pay for 50 hours.