Four Broward County police officers from the Fort Lauderdale Street Crimes Unit are accused of serious misconduct involving dozens of criminal charges that are supposedly now at risk of being dropped or already have been dismissed.
Two of the detectives are accused of stealing cash from drug buyers and sellers, kidnapping a man, and lying about their cases. They are expected to be criminally charged soon, according to the Palm Beach Post.
While they are listed as witnesses against 112 defendants, 86 of whom are charged with felonies, prosecutors only expect to drop the cases where the men are the main witnesses.
According to the Broward Public Defender’s Office’s, 19 suspects have been cleared of felony and misdemeanor charges that relied on the testimony of any of the four officers. The dropped criminal cases supposedly included numerous allegations of trafficking in prescription pain pills, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of firearms by felons and other lesser crimes.
Prosecutors are allegedly looking into other cases that could be affected.
The four officers have been suspended without pay since April 18. One man was supposedly cleared of any misconduct in October, but he has not been allowed to return to work.
The four officers came under scrutiny after two suspects were charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute on Aug. 24, 2010 at a hotel in Oakland Park, Florida.
Two officers allegedly signed an arrest form that said they arrested a driver and a passenger after they saw the two men drop crack cocaine on the floor of their vehicle in a hotel parking lot. The same two officers supposedly testified under oath that they handled the arrest and the other two officers showed up later. It was also noted that the two officers testified that they approached the car without their weapons drawn.
According to prosecutors, a video provided by the hotel tells another story entirely, which has supposedly diminished the officers’ credibility. The video allegedly shows that two officers approached the vehicle with their weapons drawn, the driver was in the car alone, the supposed passenger was in the hotel lobby and all four officers were at the scene from start to finish.
Charges against the two men suspected of possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute have supposedly been dropped.
When a law enforcement officer is accused of engaging in police misconduct to make an arrest, the facts surrounding charges must be investigated thoroughly in order to best defend the criminal case. Police misconduct such as police brutality, excessive force, or wrongful arrest is a civil rights violation that if caught, can force the prosecution to drop any criminal charges stacked against a victim of police misconduct. Because officers are well aware their careers are on the line, in many instances they will attempt to cover up their misconduct by increasing the charges against a victim.
According to the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, 4,861 claims of police misconduct were reported in 2010 involving 6,613 sworn law enforcement officers and 6,826 alleged victims. An estimated 11 percent of reports of police misconduct involved drugs in some way resulting in 343 officers criminally charged, convicted or sentenced as a result of misconduct involving drug laws. Last year an estimated $346,512,800 was spent on claims of police misconduct that included court costs, attorney fees and judgments and settlements.
It is important to know that Florida law recognizes police misconduct as a valid defense for certain criminal charges. It is crucial to contact the Florida Police Misconduct Lawyers at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible if you believe you were a victim of police misconduct so that you we can uncover any evidence of police wrongdoings before it is destroyed. We can educate you and your loved ones on what steps to take next, including filing a complaint against the officer and possibly pursuing a civil rights lawsuit for financial compensation.