CREATED Mar. 29, 2013
FORT MYERS - This whole incident was captured on dashcam video. You can watch it and decide for yourself if officers did anything wrong. 19 year old Angela Catanzaro says this dashcam video shows Fort Myers police using excessive force during a traffic stop last month.
Angela Catanzaro: "They both kept pulling me when I had my seatbelt on and I yelled my seatbelt's on help me and I kept yelling."
Here are the facts so you can decide for yourself. On the night of February 23rd, Catanzaro's boyfriend was driving her car on Cleveland Avenue....officers noticed the headlights were off so they pulled the car over.
According to the report....when officer Urra approached the car he, "could smell the distinct odor of freshly burnt marijuana" coming from the car. Officers then ordered the three people inside to exit the vehicle so they could conduct a search. They reported finding, "a small burnt piece of rolled cigar containing a green leafy substance" in the door of the car, which was suspected to be marijuana. That charge was later dismissed. Officer Urra reports telling Catanzaro to get out of the passenger seat of the car several times but she refused.
Angela Catanzaro: "I asked him why they wanted to search the car and they didn't answer me. They were like, I'm not the one who pulled you over. I was like, okay can somebody tell me what's going on? And still nobody told me."
The video shows Urra opening the passenger door to speak with Catanzaro.....and 20 seconds later officer George Sanford approaches the vehicle and begins pulling Catanzaro from the car. Sanford happens to be the same officer who recently came under fire for striking his K-9 partner. Catanzaro says Sanford's actions crossed the line.
Angela Catanzaro: "When the seatbelt was finally off he pulled me and yanked me all the way to the floor and he kneed me in my stomach and then rolled me over and kneed me in my back."
According to the report, "officer Urra released the seatbelt and officer Sanford was able to escort Catanzaro to the ground safely. Catanzaro did not suffer any injuries."
Angela Catanzaro: "It hurt really bad and I was bleeding and my chest was hurting."
Catanzaro has since filed a complaint with Internal Affairs. She and her mother want officers held accountable for their actions.
Laura Catanzaro: "She was treated like an animal, it was very unnecessary and very aggressive."
The Fort Myers police department refused to comment since this is a pending criminal case. Catanzaro faces charges of resisting arrest with violence.