Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Cops Cleared
There was harsh criticism Tuesday night for the Broward State Attorney's decision to not bring charges in a bogus arrest case in Coral Springs. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero first broke the story and is now back on the case.
WSVN -- Susan Mait no doubt will never forget the day she had a run in with Coral Springs police officers Nicole Stasnek and Derek Fernandes and ended up in jail.
Susan Mait: "They strip searched me. They looked between all my private parts."
Mait was arrested for DUI and resisting arrest with violence. But all charges were dropped. Turns out, a recording of the arrest contradicted the police version of events.
The encounter was recorded by Mait's insurance company. Mait hit a curb and ended up with flat tires. She was explaining to the insurance company that she needed a tow when Officer Stasnek asked for her ID.
Susan Mait: "Did you not see me on the phone?"
Officer Nicole Stasnek: "Did you not see the uniform I have on? Don't give me any (expletive) right now. Give me your (expletive) drivers license."
Susan Mait: "Excuse me?"
Officer Nicole Stasnek: "Give me your drivers license right now. Come out of the car right now."
Susan Mait: "You call your supervisor."
Officer Nicole Stasnek: "I will."
Clearly, Mait's initial reaction was not respectful. The recording also captured conversation between Stasnek and Fernandez.
Officer Derek Fernandes: "I didn't hear anything you said. I was in the back of the car."
Officer Nicole Stasnek: "I did drop the f-bomb."
Officer Derek Fernandes: "I didn't hear that. In my IA statement, I didn't hear that."
Officer Nicole Stasnek: "OK (laughter)"
IA means Internal Affairs which investigates complaints about police officers.
Later, both officers gave sworn dispositions that conflict with the recording.
Among other things, Stasnek said she didn't curse. Fernandes said he didn't hear anything about the f-bomb being dropped.
After a 7-month investigation, the Broward State Attorney's office has concluded the officer's conduct was unprofessional, not criminal.
Michael Catlano: "I think you're sending a bad message to police in Broward County that they can get away with just about anything."
Michael Catalano represents Susan Mait.
Michael Catlano: "It's on tape. They're talking about how they're going to fabricate their evidence. They're making up stuff."
Michael Catalano: "Well you know you said it under oath and if your word is no good under oath you know, when is it good?"
The Broward State Attorney's issued this statement about it's decision, "Florida law is clear. A lie committed during an official proceeding must have a "material" effect on a case before it is considered "perjury". Neither officer's questionable statement had any bearing on the handling or the determination of the case, so the state could not legally charge them with perjury."
Adam Mait: "Frankly, I think it's an abomination of the system and I think my family feels the exact same way."
Susan Mait's son Adam, who is also an attorney, doesn't buy the state's decision.
Adam Mait: "This woman suffered and the police will get to go back to their jobs, do what they did before, even though they are on tape lying about it. It's just, it's disgusting."
But the officers aren't totally out of the woods. Coral Springs PD said it's Internal Affairs Department is now investigating.
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