A Florida prosecutor is declining to pursue a battery charge against a West Palm Beach police officer who had been accused of excessive force after he punched a man during a November arrest, officials said.
Prosecutors on Wednesday announced a “no file” in the case, according to court records, writing in a memorandum that the evidence was not sufficient to support a criminal prosecution.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, or FDLE, arrested Officer Nicholas Lordi, 34, in February on an aggravated battery charge in connection with the Nov. 1, 2019, encounter outside a grocery store.
Surveillance video showed Lordi punching John Monroque, 65, repeatedly in the face.
The FDLE, which investigated the use of force at the request of West Palm Beach police, cited surveillance and other video in saying the use of force was excessive and not justified.
Officers were called to the store on a trespassing call, and there was a struggle as they tried to put Monroque in handcuffs, officials said.
The FDLE said in an affidavit that a review of video shows Lordi had Monroque in a headlock from behind and that Lordi punched him in the head and face about six times while they both were on the ground.
At the time, Monroque’s hands were not under his body, and he was not hitting the officer or anyone else, the affidavit says. It says Lordi then got on top of Monroque and struck him about five times in the head and face area.
The department said investigators found Lordi used excessive force in the arrest and that Lordi put his knee on Monroque’s head while he was handcuffed.
Monroque’s nose was broken.
A close-out memorandum filed by the assistant state attorney in the case says that during a struggle a second officer yelled “gun!” and that video shows a grabbing motion toward that officer’s gun belt.
It says Lordi grabbed Monroque from behind and struck him to stop an attack on the second officer. “Under the law, both officers reasonably reacted to what they perceived as an immediate threat of serious harm to themselves,” it says.
Video released by the state attorney’s office Thursday shows a struggle during an attempted arrest, and it appears to show the second officer trying to keep Monroque’s hand away before all three go to the ground.
Video from a body camera dropped on the ground appears to show Monroque touch or grab the second officer’s face as they are on the ground, and Lordi begins punching Monroque as the second officer is getting up with a stun gun in his hand.
The FDLE cited a review of surveillance video and body camera video in finding that there was probable cause for the aggravated battery charge against Lordi, according to an affidavit.
Marc Freeman, a spokesman for the state attorney’s office, said the FDLE provided all videos to prosecutors after Lordi’s arrest.
“There is a higher standard for our office in filing charges than likely cause,” Freeman said.
A West Palm Beach police spokesman told NBC affiliate WPTV of West Palm Beach that Lordi is back on modified duty.
The attorney who represented Lordi did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Thursday night.
Messages to the attorney who represented Monroque, Sue-Ann Robinson, were also not immediately returned after business hours Thursday. She told WPTV that “Lordi is out of control in the video.”
The “no-file” in the case means that no charge will be filed against Lordi and it will not be presented to a grand jury, according to the close-out memo and Freeman.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism