Former Orlando police officer Peter Delio caused great bodily harm to a man he kneed in a police holding cell two years ago, rupturing his spleen, an Orange County jury said Wednesday.
Delio, 32, was found guilty of felony battery. He had admitted to striking Robert Liese, 42, with his knee in the holding cell — a blow that was caught on surveillance video — but claimed the hit was not what caused Liese’s spleen to rupture.
A felony conviction prevents Delio from working as a law enforcement officer in Florida. Delio stared straight ahead after the verdict was read. A family member broke down in tears.
Jurors heard about a day and a half of testimony and took an hour an a half to reach their verdict.
Bigney had requested a bench trial, in which the judge, not a jury, decides the case. His request was denied because the prosecution wanted to take the case to a jury.
Delio was immediately taken to the Orange County Jail, where he will be held on a $7,500 bond. His sentencing was set for Nov. 9.
Delio arrested Liese on Aug. 12, 2014 after Liese, who was drunk, failed to pay a bar tab in downtown Orlando.
Inside the holding cell, a surveillance camera captured Liese walking around the cell, then hitting his head against a glass window in the door, breaking it.
The footage, shown to jurors, showed Delio coming into the cell and kneeing Liese in the stomach. Liese was moved into a different cell, but officers did not respond to his requests for medical attention for about an hour and 50 minutes.
Liese was eventually taken to a hospital, where doctors found that his spleen had ruptured and he had heavy internal bleeding. They removed his spleen.
Orlando Police Department officials fired Delio last September, after internal affairs investigators found he used excessive force in the case. He had been with the department for seven years. His firing followed a less severe punishment, a suspension for a week without pay, in December of 2014.
Officials also fired Sgt. William Faulkner, who they said ignored Liese as he asked for help 35 times.
Liese has pleaded guilty to resisting an officer without violence, criminal mischief and defrauding.
In a civil suit Liese filed against Delio, a federal jury found that Delio violated Liese’s civil rights but did not award him money in damages.
Jurors, using a different legal standard than the one applied in state criminal cases, did not find that Delio caused Liese’s severe injuries.
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