This past week, the Sun Sentinel reported on a story that’s been making national headlines ever since: a Broward County Deputy dragged a woman through a courthouse by her feet.
The officer, who pulled the woman by the shackles around her ankles, has been placed on restricted duty while an internal investigation is being conducted.
The woman, especially in light of the fact that a court had recently determined she was “mentally incompetent,” deserves better. Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that just because you’re a defendant in a case doesn’t mean you’ve lost your rights.
Reports indicate that the officer at the center of the scandal was not a rookie; in fact, he joined the department all the way back in 1988.
Part of the reason this story is getting attention — as it should — is because it was captured on video. This rationale begs the following question: how many other instances of police brutality took place off-camera? Unfortunately, when it’s a police officer’s word against a defendant’s, the police officers tend to be regarded as the more trustworthy, credible source of information. It’s a shame that video recordings appear necessary in order for police officers to be held accountable. Either way, this officer is finding himself in a heap of trouble.
The incident was indeed caught on cellphone video by an attorney who happened to be in the hallway down which the officer was dragging the 28-year-old woman. On the video, the woman can be heard screaming in pain. While she may be a defendant in a trespassing and criminal mischief case, she’s clearly the victim in this one. And while she’s undeniably upset about the events, her public defender is fuming. He poignantly notes that the officer’s actions amounted to “nothing less than treating a mentally ill patient like she’s a reptile.”
Apparently, as our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers understand, the woman — upset over the events of the day — sat on a bench in the courthouse hallway and began to cry. Shortly thereafter, the deputy demanded that she get up and walk down the hall, and when she sat there crying, he exclaimed, “you don’t want to walk? I’m going to drag you.” And then he did.
The officer noted that he “grabbed [the inmate] by her leg restraints and pulled her” because he was fearful she’d cause a commotion. Whether or not he had any basis for thinking she would, and it isn’t at all clear that he did, he had absolutely no right — legal or moral — to pull the mentally ill woman by chains through a hallway like an animal.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal defense issue, or if you’ve been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.