Warrant Out for Lieutenant's Son After Video Release

Police chief "disappointed" cop's son wasn't arrested for punching homeless man.

December 30, 2010, 10:29 AM

Dec. 30, 2010— -- Florida police are investigating why cops did not arrest the son of a police lieutenant who allegedly punched a homeless man from behind and knocked him unconscious.

"After I saw the video I was shocked," Sanford Chief of Police Brian Tooley told ABC News. "I was very surprised after watching that video that we did not make an arrest that night."

Tooley said as of Wednesday night there is a warrant out for the arrest of Justin Collison, 21. He is being charged with aggravated battery, which is a felony. Tooley said he is disappointed in his department, especially because this case directly involved someone in the department.

"Since this involved the lieutenant's son, we should have made sure everything was [done] according to the books," Tooley said. "It wasn't handled well at all."

The Dec. 4 incident came to light when a video emerged that appears to show Collison walk up behind Sherman Ware,48, punch him in the back of the head and leave him unconscious on the sidewalk.

"That guy just walks up and clocked him," said a man who witnessed the punch, but asked not to be identified. "I was like, God, this guy's got to go to jail. I mean, you can't walk around doing that kind of stuff."

Ware had to be hospitalized and according to the Orlando Sentinel, he suffered from a broken nose as a result of the attack.

The victim's sister saw the video on WFTV in Orlando and she rushed to the hospital to find her brother. "My heart just went to racing, cause I was like, 'That's my brother! That's my brother!'" Tonnetta Foster told ABC affiliate WFTV.

Foster said her brother had no recollection of the attack.

"When I got to the hospital, my brother didn't even know what happened," she said. "He couldn't tell me what happened."

Foster says Collison, who is the son of Sanford Police Lt. Chris Collison, is getting special treatment, noting that he has still not been charged yet and the incident happened over three weeks ago.

Cop's Son Face Charges

Sanford police initially denied there was special treatment for Collison, but have assigned an internal affairs officer to look into how the case was handled by the officers who initially responded to the call in order to guarantee that they followed all of the proper procedures

"We're handling this case like we would handle any other case," Police Capt. Jerry Hargrett said. "We're not out to protect anybody's child."

The department also said that an internal investigator has been following the case since the incident occurred.

The case has now been turned over to the district attorney, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, who will decide whether to charge Collison with a crime. Wolfinger meets with the victim next week.

"It depends on what we see once we're done, but you know the ones that obviously come to light in the video perhaps are battery, things like that, perhaps assault, felony battery," Wolfinger said. "It's another terrible incident of a homeless man unfortunately being the victim of an attack."

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