FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A verdict was reached on Monday in the in the battery trial of Fort Lauderdale police Officer Steven Pohorence.
The case went to jurors Monday afternoon after each side made their closing arguments.
The jury returned with a not guilty verdict for Pohorence, who did not speak with reporters outside the courtroom.
Prosecutors have a video showing Pohorence’s interaction with a woman who was kneeling during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020 near the Broward County Main Library.
“This was an unnecessary push. It did not have to happen,” a prosecutor said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a crime.”
Carlos Gonzalez, an expert on law enforcement’s use of force, was a defense witness during the trial. He said last week that Pohorence used a police tactic to help a fellow police officer.
“I saw what I describe as a swim maneuver,” Gonzalez said in court. “He stepped through and swam over.”
Gonzalez said Pohorence was responding to a call for help by an officer who was afraid because a crowd of protesters surrounded him and were shaking a car.
The victim was not part of such a group. Prosecutors said she was on the ground when Pohorence shoved her.
In closing arguments, defense attorneys said Pohorence was simply trying to help a fellow officer in danger.
“This was an urgent call for rescue to help an officer who was surrounded,” Pohorence’s attorney said. “He may have touched (the protester), but no one was injured.”
Jurors were handed the case Monday afternoon after prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their closing arguments.
Just before 5:25 p.m., jurors told the judge that they were unable to come to a unanimous verdict. The judge sent the jurors back to deliberate further.
If convicted of misdemeanor battery, Pohorence could have faced up to a year in prison.
Now, after being suspended without pay for over two years, Pohorence’s next step will be to get fully reinstated and receive back pay.