FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After social media video showed Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Steven Poherence shoving a protester who was kneeling at a Black Lives Matter protest at the end of May, it was discovered that the officer has 79 previous “use of force incidents” on record.
Up until Wednesday, it was not policy for internal affairs at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to review bodycam video regarding incidents with use of force, but Maglione is now requiring that to be protocol. Per the Fort Lauderdale Police Department’s policy, officers are to self-report each incident that involves use of force.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into criminal conduct allegations over two of Poherence’s previous arrests. The incidents are now the subject of separate criminal investigations.
“He put his knee on my neck and grabbed my hair and he was constantly banging my head on the concrete,” Gerald Rice, 24, said about his encounter with Poherence.
Rice’s mother called police during a dispute to say her son was trespassing, then things escalated from there. “I was about to leave and I was actually standing across the street,” Rice said.
“He ran up on me approached me and that’s when he threw me on the ground and he started punching me repeatedly. You can see on the video I started screaming. I wasn’t resisting at all."
In another incident, involving a different man in April of this year, 26-year-old Brandon Long was pulled from a county transit bus. Poherence is seen with a knee to Long’s neck as he wrestles to handcuff the man.
Shane Calvey, president of the Fort Lauderdale Fraternal Order of Police, advised that people should not rush to judgement.
“When people see a small snippet of a video, things are sometimes taken out of context and again that’s why we encourage everyone to wait for the due process to do its thing. Sometimes it does take time but that due process is led with facts and evidence and that leads to the truth at the end of the day,” Calvey said.
Rice said: “I’m not trying to make myself seem like I’m the innocent one, but I wasn’t giving him any reason to do what he did. Ya know?” Rice was arrested and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, but he said, he is fortunate that the video came to light so others could see his side of the story.
Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione calls the action concerning but he, too, did not want to pass judgement. He is going to wait for the final determination by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Once that determination comes back, a decision will be made if any administrative action from the police department should be taken against Poherence.
Poherence has been on paid administrative for nearly a month following the confrontation with the kneeling protester at the end of May.