AV Preeminent
The Florida Bar

Excessive Force by Officer Will Result in Felony for Suspect

I have heard the allegation before: An officer gets too rough with a suspect and needs justification for booking an inmate who is battered and bruised. Battery on a law enforcement officer or resisting with violence charges are all that are needed. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told by clients that they did nothing to a police officer who became excessively rough with them during an arrest. Regardless, these people were charged with the felony crime of battery on a law enforcement officer even if the “battery” was little more than a light push. What is more disturbing is that a majority of these cases started off as misdemeanors. The most recent case to travel through this firm involved an individual who had been arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana. The client calimed that something was said didn’t sit right with the law enforcement officer conducting the investigation and he was beaten prior to being placed in the patrol car.

Instantly, the misdemeanor charge of marijuana was accompanied by the felony charge of battery on a law enforcement officer. The argument is that the failure to charge may have rendered officers liable for a law suit due to an unjustified use of force. We have had several cases in the past where our clients have been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer that were videotaped without the officer’s knowledge. On one such occasion in Fort Lauderdale, an officer’s in-car video equipment recorded a complete contradiction to his police report; an individual who was roughed up despite his doing his best to comply with the officer’s commands.

Recently, in Boynton Beach, Officer David Coffey, age 27, was fired from the Boynton Beach Police Department after an investigation revealed that he was unjustified in beating suspect Adam Weiss following an arrest. A surveillance camera captured images of Coffey slamming Weiss’s head into a concrete wall, grabbing his throat and tasering him four times. Officer Coffey, not realizing that his actions had been captured on video, proceeded to file battery on a law enforcement officer charges against suspect Weiss.

Had this video not existed, been destroyed, or had not been discovered, Adam Weiss would not only have suffered such a brutality but may also have been a convicted felon for a crime he never committed.

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