Five Arrested in Brawl With Fla. Beach Patrol Officer

Five people were arrested in Daytona Beach after getting into a brawl with a beach patrol officer, and the officer said he was attacked by a dozen people.


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Five people were arrested in Daytona Beach after getting into a brawl with a beach patrol officer, and the officer said he was attacked by a dozen people.

The brawl was recorded on someone's cell phone, officials said. The incident is now under review because someone complained about the officer's demeanor and said he was racist against Hispanics, according to investigators.

The person who shot the video stayed back, officials said, as people watched Captain Rich Gardner and Luis Marte-Soto fight last Saturday near Sun Splash Park in Daytona Beach.

Officers said Marte-Soto got upset when the captain pushed a pregnant woman. The men started rolling around on the beach and slammed each other against a car. While the two were fighting, another person stomped on Gardner's head, officers said.

According to officers' reports, there were dozens of people on the beach drinking when Gardner walked over to some beachgoers with open containers. Officers said Gardner was in the process of arresting the people when Sheraldy Morales approached him. Gardner said she started to yell at him and became aggressive, so he grabbed her and tried to handcuff her.

Morales tried to pull away at that point and Marte-Soto said he became angry because Morales was pregnant, so he pushed the captain. The two started fighting while a mob surrounded them.

Officers said five people were arrested and two people were given tickets for having an open container. No injuries were reported and the pregnant woman was not hurt, officers said.

Marte-Soto is charged with two felonies. Officers said he faces battery on law enforcement and resisting arrest with violence. The captain is still on the job while the incident is under review.

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