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New policies should be put in place at Fort Lauderdale PD, review board chair says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fort Lauderdale police released hours and hours of the police-worn body camera footage from a Black Lives Matter protest that erupted into violence in May.

In part of the video, two officers are heard cursing, laughing and appearing to be joking about shooting protesters and potentially injuring them with rubber bullets.

It’s the same protest from May 31st where LaToya Ratlieff, was hit in the eye with a rubber bullet, and where a 19-year-old protester was on her knees and got shoved by Fort Lauderdale Police officer Steven Pohorence.

Now there are questions about what changes are needed in the Fort Lauderdale police's policies.

“It wreaks of conduct that is unprofessional. It reflects poorly on the police department. It reflects poorly on the city of Fort Lauderdale,” attorney Christina Currie, the chair of the Citizen Police Review Board for Fort Lauderdale, said.

The department was already facing scrutiny over the way they handled the protests that weekend between Ratlieff's injury and Pohorence's actions.

Poherence is now facing a misdemeanor batter charge. The new videos show what happened in the minutes after that shove when things turned violent.

The videos are filled with officers cursing at protesters and using language that was foul and needed to be censored for television.

At one point, you can hear two officers, who thought the body camera recording them was on standby, laughing about the people they had shot with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione sent out a statement Wednesday in response to the newly released video, saying:

"The entire video clearly demonstrates our officers were under attack by a group of people who chose to use violence instead of peace to antagonize the situation. Although the language is extreme, and offensive to some, our officers were dealing with the chaos of a developing situation."

Currie told Local 10 that it wasn’t a good enough answer, adding that the board makes a recommendation of their finding to the city manager. “It’s advisory only,” she said.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement here and sitting back and being quiet and giving quick little one-liners to the media hoping everybody’s going to go away, that’s not going to bring our community where we need to be,” she said.

She also told Local 10 that she has recommended to the city and to the department that there be changes made to the body-worn camera policy that explicitly outlines the consequences of not following the policy.

“Whether you don’t activate, or you deactivate, or whether you violate that policy in other ways.”

She said, as of now, she has yet to hear back from the department or the city manager.


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