A fraternity party at Florida Atlantic University took an ugly turn when dozens of Broward Sheriff’s Deputies arrived to break it up recently. Deputies were dispatched to the party shortly after 10:30 p.m. in response to complaints of loud music. When deputies arrived they found a party with hundreds in attendance, and they claim that some of the partiers rushed the deputies. A brawl between deputies and students ensued.

Six people, including several FAU students, were arrested. Seven deputies were allegedly injured. Some of the students allege that deputies overreacted. They report that deputies rushed the students-and at least one has alleged that the overreaction may have had something to do fact that many of the partygoers were African-American.

At least one student faces serious charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. Charges like this carry serious penalties. That student ended up requiring 20 stitches to close a gash in his head. News reports do not make clear what charges were filed against the other five who were arrested. The University has a pending investigation into the fraternity that hosted the party.

When felony charges are filed in connection with a wild, confusing melee like this, defense counsel will often find serious inconsistencies in eyewitness identifications and recollections. Prosecutors have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual charged committed a crime. This means they must isolate and prove certain acts by a specific individual in the middle of a crowded, chaotic situation. It is also not unheard of for police officers to lose their temper in a situation like this-which may provide a basis for a self-defense claim by some of those accused.

Source: cbs12.com, “Deputies Injured, Several Arrested at FAU Fraternity Party in Deerfield Beach,” Mike Clary & Scott T. Smith, Nov. 26, 2013

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