‘Thought You Were Going to Kill Me’: Florida Cops Tackle and Handcuff Innocent Black Man with Epilepsy After Mistaking Him for Murder Suspect, Video Shows

Errol Leath, a 33-year-old Black man with epilepsy, was stepping off a city bus in South Florida last year when he was confronted by several cops wielding assault rifles.

“Hey, you right there, don’t f–king move,” a cop screams as they run up to him and tackle him to the ground with one cop pushing his face into the grass and planting his knee on his back to handcuff him.

“What’d I do? What’d I do?” a stunned Leath asks. “I got epilepsy, bro. I got seizures, bro.” 

Florida Cops Tackle and Handcuff Innocent Black Man with Epilepsy After Confusing Him for Another Black Man with Locs Wanted for Murder
Errol Leath, left, was mistaken for murder suspect, Daenon King, right. (Photos: YouTube screenshot/WSVN)

It was not until the cops began rummaging through his fanny pack, which contained a Bible and a prescription bottle of epilepsy medicine with his name on it that the cops began realizing they had made a mistake. 

That mistake was confirmed when they pulled his identification from his pocket and discovered he was a 33-year-old man weighing 180 pounds while the man they were looking for, Daenon Malik King, was a 40-year-old man weighing 210 pounds who was wanted for murder.

King also has multiple tattoos adorning his body, including on both arms and back, while Leath — who was wearing a sleeveless shirt that day — has no tattoos on his body.

Leath filed a lawsuit against the city of Fort Lauderdale and the cops who falsely detained him on May 30, accusing the cops of assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, and negligent training and supervision.

“You look like someone we’re looking for that’s wanted for murder,” one of the cops told him, according to body camera footage.

“Murder!? I never killed no one in my life,” Leath responds.

“We’re looking for a suspect in a homicide, and you have a very similar appearance,” another cop chimes in.

“The dreads?”

Like Leath, King wears his hair in locs, as do many Black men in South Florida. One of the cops tells him that they found it suspicious that he began running from them after stepping off the bus and seeing the cops wielding their weapons.

“Listen, it’s unfortunate, but you have, it’s almost like your twin brother,” one officer says.

The incident took place on July 19, 2023, after Fort Lauderdale police spotted Leath stepping on a bus, which they began following in unmarked cars. As the bus comes to a stop at a bus stop, the cops parked their cars in front and behind the bus to keep it from moving, then ran out with their guns drawn.

“I thought you were going to kill me,” Heath says to the officers.

The video shows at least one of the men at the bus stop getting down on his knees with his hands up, but police ran past him to confront Leath, whose only brush with the law in Broward County was ten years ago when he was cited for driving with a suspended license without knowledge which is considered a civil infraction in Florida punishable by a fine. Online court records show he paid a fine of $172.15 for the infraction.

Online court records from Broward County also show that King was not arrested until August 11, nearly a month later, and remains in custody with no bond.

Body camera videos show that Leath was very distraught about the incident and was worried the cops were going to seize his medicine.

“That’s my seizure pills, bro,” Leath pleads, sounding on the verge of tears.

“We’re not taking them,” one of the cops tries to reassure him.

The cops named in the lawsuit are Eliezer Ramos, Steven Smith, Eduardo Requejo, Michael Lopinot, Todd Hill, and Matthew Emala, who are part of the department’s fugitive unit within the violent crimes unit. At least three of the cops have been investigated in the past for overly aggressive police tactics.

Ramos made headlines in 2020 after he shot a Black woman named LaToya Ratlieff in the face with a rubber bullet during a Black Lives Matter protest, leaving her with a broken eye socket, nerve damage and a gash on her forehead.

But Ramos was cleared of wrongdoing by his department after he claimed he was trying to shoot the protester behind Ratlieff, who had thrown a tear gas canister. Ratlieff filed a lawsuit in 2022 and joined a class action lawsuit against the police department a few days ago.

Requejo has also made headlines in the past after he was accused in a lawsuit of allowing his police dog to maul a man who had stolen a car, but a jury cleared him of all wrongdoing.

A grand jury also cleared Lopinot of wrongdoing after he and other officers and paramedics were investigated after a man they had pepper-sprayed while handcuffed died in their custody less than an hour later.

The recent lawsuit states that the cops never bothered to call paramedics despite Leath “sustaining severe physical and mental trauma brought on by the fugitive unit.”

Leath told WSVN in a September interview that he went to the hospital later that day because he saw signs and feared the stress was going to trigger a seizure.

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