Sergeant in charge of investigating rubber bullet shooting reassigned by Fort Lauderdale

LaToya Ratlieff talks about her experience after police shot her in the face with a foam projectile at a Black Lives Matter protest in Fort Lauderdale. Ratlieff was choking from tear gas and trying to leave the area when she was shot. AL DIAZ ADIAZ@MIAMIHERALD.COM

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s lead investigator on the probe into its officer who shot LaToya Ratlieff in the face with a rubber bullet has been removed from the case and will be reassigned to the patrol division after making comments that raised concerns about his impartiality.

Ratlieff met with the investigator, Sgt. Jeffrey Newman, on Monday, Aug. 10, the day she was suppose to provide a statement for his team’s investigation of Eliezer Ramos, the officer who shot her. She was distracted “when he said he was sure it was an accident,” and she discovered that the department’s investigations were on hold, said Ratlieff’s spokesperson, Evan Ross. 

Newman’s words were “unacceptable,” wrote Interim Chief Karen Dietrich in an email to City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, informing him of Newman’s reassignment. The memo did not state precisely what Newman uttered but said: “The information he relayed had a chilling effect on [Ratlieff’s] cooperativeness, and created serious doubt with those representing [Ratlieff], on his ability to independently investigate the matter.”

Ramos shot Ratlieff in the eye socket with a rubber bullet at a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31. The investigation of the incident is open. 

It’s not clear when the probe will be completed.

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