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Deputy accused of using excessive force, caught on camera

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Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Deputy accused of using excessive force, caught on camera

By Mike Mason. CREATED Aug 16, 2012 - UPDATED: Aug 17, 2012

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Tonight, a Fort Myers family accusing two Lee County deputies of using excessive force, one even pulling out his weapon in front of several small children and it's all caught on camera. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason finding one of these officers has faced similar accusations before.

In a Fox 4 investigation earlier this year, seven customers of a gay bar in Fort Myers claimed Deputy Scott Hill charged them with his gun drawn for no reason and he even tasered a handicapped man. Tonight he's accused of using excessive force again.

Ada Matias breaks down each time she watches this video showing a Lee County Deputy pointing his weapon at her family and arresting her teenage daughter.

It happened last year, on July 31st when Matias was having a party at her home in East Fort Myers. Cameras were rolling when this good time took a horrible turn, ending with the arrest of Ada, her husband and teenage daughter.

A Sheriff's Office report shows Deputy Scott Hill was on patrol when he noticed four Hispanic males drinking beer next to Ada's home under the "No Loitering" sign on the side of this convenience store.
 
Reports show Hill then arrested the four men for having open containers, one of them was Ada's husband. That's when Ada walked outside to find out why he was being arrested.

According to police reports, the Deputy says there were: "30-35 people in the yard.....Ada Matias confronted me and started yelling in Spanish....it was obvious that Matias was trying to incite a riot among the gathering people and refusing my lawful commands to leave the area."

Hill then called for backup and Deputy Kenneth Sherman arrived. That's when things really heated up. Video shows Ada's 10 year old daughter going to the cruiser to see her father. Deputy Sherman then grabs her arm and pulls her away. When the girl runs back again deputy hill pulls out a weapon in front of small children.

Deputy Hill then approaches Ada's 14-year old daughter with a pair of handcuffs, as he grabs her wrists the girl takes a swing at Deputy Hill and that's when Deputy Sherman takes her to the ground and she's arrested. Two small children try to approach their sister but are pushed away. In Deputy Hill's report he writes, the 14-year old girl, "Raised her fists and struck him in the arm and chest multiple times before she was restrained by Deputy Sherman."

But that's not what the video shows. You can clearly see the girl taking one swing at Deputy Hill and she misses. We also asked the girl about this directly.

Mike Mason: "The Deputy says that you swung at him multiple times is that true?
Girl: "No it's not."

The teen was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence. Miami attorney John De Leon is fighting to get those charges dismissed.

John De Leon: "It just seems completely way out of bounds to point the gun at children who, while they're investigating a misdemeanor drinking in public. This is what leads to people tragically getting shot."

We asked the Lee County Sheriff's Office about what happened. They say Deputy Hill was pointing his taser, which looks similar to a hand gun. They also say Deputy Hill had every right to draw his weapon because he felt Ada Matias was inciting a riot and his life was in danger.

But we found this is not the first time Deputy Scott Hill has been accused of using excessive force. On January 7th customers at a Fort Myers gay bar called The Office Pub say Hill and another Deputy charged them in the bar's parking lot with guns drawn.

Warren Miller: “They were charging at us with their guns drawn and flashlights on us and said get on your knees and we didn't move to get on our knees right away so then they said (***expletive***) get on your knees or we will shoot you!"

At the time, Deputy Hill was serving a warrant next door at Babe's Gentlemen's Club  when he claims hearing gunshots coming from the area of The Office Pub. But customers say the sound wasn't from a gun, it was actually a car door being slammed. Reports show Deputies ordered all seven customers to the ground but Robert Ortiz is handicapped and couldn't comply so Deputy Hill shot him with a taser. Ortiz remembers what he told Hill.

Robert Ortiz: "I can't put my arms up and I can't talk cause I'm like this and there's nothing there (Ortiz points to his tracheotomy). He said get on your knees now" and I said, “I can't” and he fires his taser at me."

The Lee County Sheriff's Office investigated the bar customer's complaints and determined there was no evidence to prove the officers did anything wrong.  In this most recent case, the Sheriff's Office says no one filed a complaint against the two Deputies so the Sheriff's Office did not investigate.  Ada Matias says charges against her were dropped and now she wants the same for her daughter.

Ada Matias: "I don't know what happened to this day but me only pray for my God."

Attorney John De Leon is set to take depositions in this case next week and says if charges against the teen are not dropped he says he will go to trial.