Gainesville officer beat with handcuffs; suspect jailed

Eric Pitts

Eric Pitts

A man is behind bars after injuring a Gainesville police officer with his own set of handcuffs during a Saturday arrest, police said.

Eric Pitts, 37, grabbed the pair of handcuffs off the belt of Officer Stephen Lucius during a struggle outside a hotel, according to Gainesville police.

Lucius tried to arrest Pitts at the HomeTowne Studios along Jesse Jewell Parkway because he was there without permission, Gainesville police spokeswoman Cpl. Jessica Van said.

Pitts had been issued a criminal trespass warning Thursday after being asked repeatedly to leave. Property owners called 911 again about noon Saturday after Pitts returned to the hotel, Van said.

“The suspect violently resisted him and they ended up going to the ground,” Van said. “The officer tried to handcuff the subject, but instead the subject was able to gain control of the handcuffs and strike the officer on the head multiple times, causing lacerations.”

Police were eventually able to subdue Pitts and make an arrest. He remains in the Hall County jail on charges of aggravated assault, criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, obstruction of an officer and two counts of terroristic threats, records show.

Lucius received several stitches and is now recovering, Van said

Video of the encounter was captured by at least two bystanders as well as by officers’ body cameras, police said.

Police say they are waiting to release the footage.

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