Paul Pletcher found guilty on 1 of 4 counts in road-rage trial
Former BSO deputy accused of yelling racial slurs at woman, smashing cellphone
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Former Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Paul Pletcher was found guilty of battery in the trial relating to a May 2011 road-rage incident.
A jury found him not guilty of burglary, criminal mischief and petty theft Tuesday.
The jury arrived at court Tuesday morning for the second day of deliberations in Pletcher's retrial. But, just minutes after they resumed their deliberations, the four men and two women requested another look at the now-infamous cellphone video and the state's key piece of evidence.
Jurors watched the 21-second recording of Pletcher demanding a woman to turn over her cellphone or go to jail during a traffic stop in May 2011 three times before returning to the jury room.
Pletcher, who had plenty of support from family and former colleagues, pulled up alongside the woman and began yelling at her, making derogatory remarks and giving her the middle finger. She returned the gesture. Shortly after turning on his lights and sirens, Pletcher realized he was being recorded by her friend and that's when the altercation escalated and he smashed her cellphone.
"I'm very happy that the jury exonerated him in the most serious charges that he was facing," attorney Al Milan told Local 10 News. "I'm disappointed in the one count of battery. It seems to me a little bit inconsistent given the fact that they were traveling under this theory that he went into the car in order to commit the battery or take the phone."
Assistant state attorney Deborah Zimet pleaded with the judge to impose a maximum sentence on Pletcher.
"Mr. Pletcher is a public servant," she told the judge. "(He) was a public servant on May 23, 2011, but he acted totally beyond the authority of a public servant. He's sworn to protect the people of the state of Florida, and he did just the opposite."
Last week his accuser, Neyda Osorio, took the stand.
"Since Mr. Pletcher crossed my life everything has gone wrong," said Osorio. "They've accused me of prostitution. They've accused me of drug sales. I have gone to jail. They have beaten me. They have accused me of everything."
Osorio currently has her own legal issues, and faces felony charges, including battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest in an unrelated case.
Pletcher was a seven-year veteran once assigned to the sheriff's Pompano Beach district. He was fired by BSO a year after the incident and was granted a mistrial in January after the judge had a family emergency.
The former deputy faced up to 11 years in prison if he was convicted on all four charges. Instead, Judge Michael Usuan immediately sentenced Pletcher to a year of probation, a special condition of three days in jail and a 26-week intervention course.
Pletcher was expected to surrender next week.
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