Officer seen pushing teen during protest has been accused of unnecessary force and racial profiling

FDLE investigating Sunday incident involving Fort Lauderdale police officer Steven Pohorence

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Fort Lauderdale police officer who is accused of pushing a 19-year-old woman during a protest over the weekend has 70 use of force cases on his personnel file, Local 10 News learned.

Fort Lauderdale police spokeswoman Casey Liening told Local 10 News reporter Roy Ramos that Internal Affairs automatically looks into a case when an officer notes in their report that use of force was required regardless of whether a complaint was made. Fort Lauderdale police have to fill out a form every time they pull their gun out of the holster.

Officer Steven Pohorence, who has since been suspended following Sunday’s incident, has spent nearly four years with the police department.

According to Internal Affairs investigators, there have been at least 51 incidents in which Pohorence has drawn his gun.

His personnel file shows an allegation of unnecessary force and false arrest was made, and in another report, a man accused Pohorence of racially profiling him during a traffic stop.

In those cases, he was not found to be in violation of department policy.

Cellphone video taken Sunday shows an officer believed to be Pohorence shoving the 19-year-old, who was kneeling on the ground with her hands up.

Her mother told Local 10 News she was there and witnessed the incident.

“He needs to be off of the force, period,” Danielle Casey said.

In his latest evaluation, Pohorence’s supervisors wrote that he “is a positive, proactive, and motivated individual....however Ofc. Pohorence was sent to mandatory training to improve his interactions with the public with emphasis on public speaking.”

The evaluation also stated that “He requires little if any supervision, and his self-motivation serves as a role model for others.”

Pohorence also received a life-saving award in July 2019.

Meanwhile, another woman who said she was peacefully protesting on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale told Local 10 News that she was struck by a projectile and received 20 stitches.

“She was pulling me away and, as I was turning, I was shot,” LaToya Ratlieff said.

Ratlieff was seen bleeding from her head as people tried to help her.

She was struck by a projectile she believes was a foam baton. A casing was found nearby on the ground.

“I have 20 stitches,” she said. “Luckily, the CT scan revealed that I have no brain damage.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has opened an investigation into Sunday’s incident involving Pohorence.

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