We look to our law enforcement officials to protect us from those individuals who may cause us harm. Unfortunately there are times when we need protection from those very same officials sworn to protect us.
On May 10, a Lakeland policeman was placed on paid leave when parents of a boy complained that he had head-butted their son.
William O'Bryan Leitch, 23, who lives in Daytona Beach and is a member of the Lakeland Police Department, is under investigation for the head butting that occurred during a pick-up game of basketball.
According to a Lakeland police spokeswoman, Melissa and Rock Russek of Daytona Beach, filed a report saying Leitch struck their 14-year-old son Anthony Russek in the face using his head. Melissa Russek stated that her son now has a loose tooth from the incident.
Sam Masters, Leitch's attorney, says his client was not the aggressor in the incident, that he was the victim and that if anything, he was defending himself from the larger teenager.
According to the Ormond Beach police report, Leitch is an inch taller that Anthony Russek and both weigh 200 pounds.
On May 3, Russek, Leitch, and others were playing basketball at the Nova Recreation Center according to the report. Anthony Russek told police that during a lay-up, Leitch grabbed his leg, threw him to the ground and he suffered a cut on his arm. He questioned the officer's actions and Leitch told him not to yell at a grown man. Then, again according to the police report, Leitch head-butted Russek in the mouth.
Russek called his parents, they drove to the park, and spotted Leitch. When Leitch approached the Russeks, Rock Russek pushed Leitch back with his left hand. He explained the push to Ormond policeman Robert Pearson by saying Leitch approached him with his hands underneath his shirt and shorts. Rock Russek did say that Leitch apologized for head-butting the teenager and said that he had "let his emotions get away from him and it wasn't intentional."
Masters, Leitch's attorney, said the episode was nothing more than "a scuffle on a basketball court."
Unfortunately, the scuffle has now turned into much more. Both sides in the incident are filing charges.
Ormond Beach police officer, Pearson, gathered statements from witnesses on the basketball court and all four sided with Leitch. All four witnesses happened to either be related to or friends of Leitch.
Because all witnesses sided with Leitch, Officer Pearson contacted the Russeks and told them that charges would be filed against both Rock and Anthony Russek. However, the officer asked the Russeks if they would be willing to drop their charges if Leitch dropped his.
Melissa Russek said that at first, they agreed to drop charges as they didn't want Rock and Anthony charged for hitting a police officer. But then on Tuesday night, Melissa Russek changed her mind and told Pearson that she wants Leitch prosecuted, commenting that she didn't realize that this was 'Let's Make a Deal.