ORLANDO, Fla. — A New York man injured a deputy Sunday evening when he placed him in a chokehold while thousands of fans were leaving Parramore's Orlando City Stadium, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.
Deputy Gustavo Marinoni was helping with crowd control at about 7:30 p.m. after Orlando City Soccer Club's season-opening win against New York FC when fans became combative, Orange County Deputy Rose Silva said.
Investigators said Felix Vazquez, 27, of the Bronx, New York, wrapped his arm around the deputy's neck and tried to choke him on West Church Street east of South Terry Avenue near the City View apartments.
A man in an apartment complex near the fight recorded the incident on his cellphone.
"They are using pepper spray. People are fighting with police," the man said in the cellphone video.
See video of the alleged confrontation below:
While Vazquez was trying to choke Marinoni, they both fell to the ground, and the crowd began to chant slurs at the deputy, according to an arrest affidavit.
"During this incident, hundreds of individuals were in close proximity to us," Orange County Cpl. Mark Rutkoski wrote in the report. "His actions caused the crowd to become more hostile towards law enforcement."
"These police is hurt. There is other people hurt over there. Look at the police everywhere," the man said in the cellphone video.
Marinoni was eventually freed from Vazquez's grip, the report said. Orlando police said the deputy was taken to a hospital to be treated for a knee injury. A fan, who is also a doctor, rendered aid to the deputy until help arrived.
"Deputy Gustavo Marinoni has been released and is recovering at home," Silva said. "Thank you all for your well wishes."
Marinoni, who is assigned to the K-9 unit, has worked for the Sheriff's Office since 2002.
Investigators said another deputy was punched during the altercation and an Orlando police cruiser was damaged.
Katerina Sopilidis and Luciano Migliore were also arrested in connection with the incident. They were both charged with resisting an officer without violence and affray.
Vazquez was booked into the Orange County Jail on charges of aggravated battery, resisting an officer with and without violence and disorderly conduct. A judge set his bail Monday morning at $20,000 during a court hearing.
Deputies told Channel 9's Shannon Butler that there were not as many off-duty police working compared to other games. Orlando police said for security reasons, they could not tell Eyewitness News how many were hired for the game.
Deputies said they had to call for backup, but for minutes had to fight the crowd alone with their night sticks to try and keep everyone back as they tried to help the deputies. Some Orlando City soccer fans tried to step in and also help deputies.
A spokesperson for the city said it's not planning to rearrange the traffic patterns. In a statement, they said: "It's important to remember this was the first game and fans are also getting used to the ingress and egress to/from the event. So these patterns may change as well as people get more familiar with the location."
The Orlando City Soccer Club said in a statement: "The safety of our fans, employees and staff is first and foremost our number one priority."
"While it is unfortunate that the acts of a few have distracted from fully enjoying last night's historic opening day for the new stadium, Orlando City SC is working closely with local law enforcement to address the situations that occurred in and outside of the stadium in downtown Orlando."
"On Sunday, March 5, a fan of the visiting team, New York City FC, removed a seat from Orlando City Stadium. The fan was caught by the Orlando Police Department upon exiting the stadium. After the match, three additional fans of New York City FC were arrested outside of the stadium in downtown Orlando for committing acts of violence, including harming a member of the local law enforcement. These individuals were arrested on Church Street near Terry Street by deputies. Orlando City SC will press charges against all arrested individuals."
"As a Club, we do not condone any violent acts and will work with all parties involved to continue implementing the safety protocols set in place with city officials and law enforcement for all future events."
Cox Media Group