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Police may have trumped up charges against Coral Springs woman

Police officers are not above making mistakes, but sometimes those mistakes are shown to be so egregious and damaging that not only are criminal charges against Florida residents dropped; the police officers themselves come under investigation. That is exactly what happened in a case involving a Coral Springs woman after a taped phone call revealed that city police officers cursed at her and even discussed how to address the internal affairs complaint they apparently felt was inevitable.

The 59-year-old woman from Coral Springs ended up facing four criminal charges, including driving under the influence of drugs and a felony charge of resisting an officer. State prosecutors have since dropped the charges, and the Broward State Attorney's Office is currently investigating whether the police officers lied under oath and trumped up the allegations.

The officers had stopped on the roadside where the 59-year-old woman was trying to deal with two flat tires. Within minutes of speaking with the woman, one of the officers began cursing at her. At the time, she was on the phone with her insurance company and trying to arrange a tow. The phone call was automatically recorded by the insurance company, and the recording included the officers admitting that one of them had dropped "the F-bomb" at the woman. They also tried to get their stories straight for a possible internal affairs investigation.

The Coral Springs woman says she was pulled out of her car, thrown on the ground and kicked when an officer tried to interrupt her phone conversation. The woman had apparently gestured for the officer to wait.

On the recording, the 59-year-old can be heard saying, "Did you not see me on the phone?" And one of the officers responded, "Did you not see this uniform?" The officer then cursed at the woman, demanding her driver's license. After the woman was forced to the ground, she could be heard sobbing on the recorded phone call.

One of the officers then admitted to the other that she had cursed at the woman. The second officer then indicated that he would pretend not to have heard the cursing if he had to give an internal affairs statement.

The 59-year-old driver spent time in jail, and her driver's license was suspended because the police wrongfully claimed that she refused to give a urine sample. In fact, the woman did give a urine sample that was later tested, showing that she was not under the influence of illegal drugs.

The case is a powerful reminder that justice is not a game. Broward County residents who are accused of a crime should be fully aware of their rights, even if police officers sometimes fail to protect them.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Driver's charges dismissed after Coral Springs cops caught on taped phone call," Paula McMahon, March 27, 2012

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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