Three Fort Lauderdale police officers bonded out of jail Thursday night after they were arrested on charges of falsifying a police report and sworn testimony in connection with an officer-involved crash.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department said that Sgt. Michael Florenco, Detective Matthew Moceri and Officer Geoffrey Shaffer surrendered Thursday at the Broward County Main Jail.
Their arrests stem from an investigation initiated after Kenneth Post filed a complaint following his Nov. 22, 2009, arrest.
According to the arrest warrants, the three officers responded to a report of the thefts of some liquor bottles that morning at the Hilton Hotel on Southeast 17th Street and saw Post, a suspect, trying to flee the scene. The officers followed him, and at some point, Post's vehicle and an unmarked police vehicle driven by Florenco collided, police said.
Surveillance video shows Post stealing several liquor bottles from the hotel bar and three Fort Lauderdale officers arresting him.
Investigators said Moceri and Shaffer were also in the vehicle and helped Florenco arrest Post, who was charged with attempted homicide on a law enforcement officer, burglary, aggravated fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest with violence, aggravated assault and felony vandalism.
"The police say that he basically turned his car to intentionally try to kill them," Local 10's Bob Norman said to said Assistant Public Defender Kelly Murdock.
"And since Day 1, Kenneth has denied that that has ever happened. That's something that the police said once he was beaten so bad. He was in the hospital. He suffered a broken nose because of this," Murdock said. "They had beat him up and ... they lied to cover themselves."
The Public Corruption Task Force alleged in its investigation that physical evidence and at least one witness' statement contradicted the officers' reports, probable cause affidavits and sworn testimony. Crime scene photos did not show any damage to the front of Post's white Cadillac nor to the side of the officer's unmarked police car. Witnesses told investigators that what they saw was not what the officers said happened.
"This went from someone with an allegation of stealing liquor bottles to, 'He's out trying to kill police officers.' And that never happened," Murdock said.
All three officers face four counts of official misconduct and one count of conspiracy to commit official misconduct, both felonies, and four misdemeanor counts of falsifying records. Florenco and Moceri also face one charge of perjury in an official proceeding.
All three officers were on administrative leave with pay, but they will now be put on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings, Fort Lauderdale police said.
The officers were on the controversial Northwest Raiders Street Unit. In November, two other members of the unit were charged with kidnapping and shaking down drug suspects.
"No one should have to suffer what Kenneth did. No one should have to suffer what other citizens in the community have suffered based on their illegal and wrong behavior," Murdock said.
A representative of the State Attorney's Office said Post still faces charges of burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft and possession of burglary tools, but the state on Wednesday dropped the charges against him related to the police chase and crash.
The officers had no comment after being released from jail Thursday night.