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Fort Lauderdale settles case involving misleading police report

A Fort Lauderdale man recently reached a settlement with the city after a police officer allegedly filed a false police report and arrested him on misdemeanor charges. The case highlights the fact that a defendant in a criminal case, whether it involves misdemeanor or felony charges, can easily be victimized by police. In this case, the man was lucky. He had video from a home security system that contradicted the officer's version of events.

The incident occurred when police were called to the home of the 50-year-old man on a complaint about loud music. The arresting officer's report claimed that the man laughed at him, took a drink of a beer he was holding and physically resisted and tried to walk away when the officer tried to arrest him. The video, however, showed that as soon as police arrived, the man went into his home and turned the music down or off and then sat down to talk to officers. Although he was holding a container, he did not drink from it during the confrontation. At no time did he physically resist arrest or try to walk away.

Unfortunately, most people in this situation are not fortunate enough to have a video contradicting a police officer's version of an incident. And equally unfortunate, many jurors tend to believe the word of a police officer over the word of a person who has been arrested for an alleged crime. This can be especially serious when an individual is accused of committing a felony.

When police or prosecutors break the rules and violate defendants' due process rights, the credibility of our criminal justice system suffers. No citizen should have to fear prison or other penalties based on false police testimony.

Source: WPTV News Channel 5, "Winston Dudley: Fort Lauderdale pays arrested man $30,000 when video contradicts cop's report," Paula McMahon, Aug. 20, 2012

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