Deputy accused of punching handcuffed suspect

A deputy from Seminole County is facing charges after being accused of striking a suspect while he was handcuffed. Deputy Sheriff Michael O'Connor was charged Wednesday with one count of battery, which is a first degree misdemeanor.

Authorities say the incident happened on Jan. 12, when O'Connor was disrespectful to a subject arrested for domestic violence. Reports indicate he struck the man once on the face while he was handcuffed and in the back of a patrol car. The Sheriff's Office learned of the incident on March 18 and immediately began investigating.

"We have a strong and long-standing relationship with the community we serve, and my commitment is to always be transparent with, and accountable to, our residents," said Sheriff Eslinger. "O'Connor's actions were not just a violation of policy and law, they were also contrary to our agency's core values. His behavior was completely inappropriate and totally inconsistent with what is expected of a deputy sheriff at our agency."

O'Connor was placed on suspension at the onset of the investigation and then submitted his resignation on March 24th. He had been employed with the Sheriff's Office as a deputy assigned to Seminole Neighborhood Policing (patrol division) since October 2013.

The case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 18th Judicial Circuit. The Sheriff's Office criminal and administrative investigations will be forwarded to the state's Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission which reviews officer misconduct and determines if action should be taken against a law enforcement officer's certification.