FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Closing arguments were made in the trial of three Fort Lauderdale Police officers accused of lying about what happened when they arrested a liquor thief.
"Jack Nicholson says, 'You can't handle the truth.' Well guess what ladies and gentlemen, the people of the State of Florida demand the truth," prosecutor Stefanie Newman said during closing arguments Tuesday.
Sgt. Michael Florenco, Det. Matthew Moceri and Ofc. Geoffrey Shaffer each face four felony counts of official misconduct and four misdemeanor counts of falsifying public records.
The charges stem from an investigation initiated after Kenneth Post filed a complaint following his arrest on Nov. 22, 2009.
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 trying to run away. The officers followed him, and at some point, Post's vehicle and an unmarked police vehicle driven by Florenco collided.
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 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.
"These three defendants lied in their reports," said Newman. "They didn't report that they crashed in to the rear of Kenneth Post's Cadillac. They reported that Kenneth Post struck their vehicle."
Post pleaded guilty to four felonies Monday and was sentenced to three years in prison. Because of time served, he's expected to be released from jail in a few months.
"They're doing their jobs and now they're sitting here as defendants," said defense attorney Howard Greitzer, who called Post "garbage."
"He was a caged rat, a caged animal," added Greitzer.
The officers were part of the Northwest Raiders Street Unit. In November 2011, two other members of the unit were charged with kidnapping and shaking down drug suspects.
The three officers are currently on administrative leave without pay.
Jurors began deliberating Tuesday afternoon.
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