Former Riviera Beach sergeant accused of striking a man across the face with gun

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — A former Riviera Beach Police sergeant was arrested and accused of hitting a man in the face with a gun in October.

Russell Byrd, 55, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail at 10:58 p.m. on Thursday and is facing a count of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, Palm Beach County Jail records show.

Riviera Beach police say in light of the allegations against him, Byrd resigned from his position.

“We want to ensure the community that we are committed to holding our officers and staff accountable for their actions. This incident does not reflect the values and standards of the Riviera Beach Police Department. We are dedicated to building and maintaining trust within the community we serve,” Riveria Beach Police said in a news release.

According to Byrd’s arrest affidavit, the incident occurred at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2023, after Byrd received a phone call from a friend who alleged that a theft occurred at her home in Riviera Beach.

The affidavit notes that Byrd was off-duty at the time but went to the scene and searched the surrounding area for the suspect and a vehicle.

A short time later, Byrd found a vehicle  at the InTown Suites Hotel on North Military Trail that matched the description he was given,  the affidavit says.

Once Byrd found the vehicle, he contacted Riviera Beach Police, and an on-duty officer responded.

The report says body-camera video was recording as Byrd approached the vehicle, identified as a Chevy Malibu, which was occupied by a woman. The report notes that Byrd was not wearing anything that identified him as a Riviera Beach Police officer.

The affidavit says the woman and Byrd had exchanged words when a 30-year-old man walked up.

A “verbal exchange” ensued between Byrd and the man, and seconds later Byrd struck the man in the face with a Glock 42 gun, the affidavit says.

In Byrd’s statement to the Riviera Beach Police, he alleged that the man approached him in an “aggressive and threatening manner.” The dashcam video contradicted Byrd’s statement, the report says.

The report says the video shows the man approaching Byrd, but he appears to just be “standing near Byrd at that time.”

The man was treated for two minor wounds to his face at JFK North Hospital, the report says.

WPEC-CBS12 is a news partner of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.