FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A judge acquitted three Fort Lauderdale police officers accused of corruption after jurors were hung on some of the charges.
Sgt. Michael Florenco and Detectives Matthew Moceri and Geoffrey Shaffer were charged with official misconduct and falsifying reports. Jurors began deliberating the charges Tuesday afternoon.
"The court grants the motion for (judgment of acquittal) JOA on all counts," Judge Cynthia Imperato said Wednesday morning.
Jurors were hung on all counts Florenco faced and deadlocked on the charges of falsifying reports Moceri and Shaffer faced.
"The state cherry picked the evidence. They did not include any evidence that shed a good light on the officers," said Sgt. Jack Lokeinsky with the Fort Lauderdale Fraternal Order of Police.
The trial is the result of an incident in November 2009. Police responded to a call that a man was breaking into a locked liquor cabinet at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale marina.
The chase ended when they caught up with the suspect, Kenneth Post. The three officers filed reports saying that Post had slammed into the side of their undercover vehicle and deliberately rammed it head on.
An accident reconstruction expert found that damage to both vehicles contradicted the officers' accounts. Post pleaded guilty to four felonies on Monday.
Investigators alleged the officers beat Post, but no battery charges were filed.
"They beat the crap out of him," said prosecutor Tim Donnelly.
"Mr. Donnelly says they beat the crap out of him," said Imperato. "That makes me wonder what this case is really about. Is it about Mr. Post and whatever happened? Then these officers should have been charged, if that is what the state thought, with battery but they weren't charged with that."
The state argued a judgment of acquittal is appropriate only in circumstantial cases where there are no facts in which reasonable minds could differ.
"The fact that the jury was hung on 90 percent of the charges establishes that reasonable minds could differ," said prosecutor Stefani Newman.
"They should go back to their jobs," said defense attorney Bradford Cohen. "I don't know how it is going to work with their back pay. In terms of whether or not there are going to be any other repercussions, that is something the Fort Lauderdale Police Department would deal with, but it wouldn't be anything criminal."
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.
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