Man said deputies used excessive force in arrest
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A homeless man's attorney said surveillance video shows deputies used excessive force in his arrest.
Gerald McGovern, 58, has been arrested no fewer than 69 times, but this time he insists it is different. He said, on Dec. 2, when he was approached by an undercover BSO deputy, he did not attack them, as charged. Instead, they attacked him.
The public defender's office said the surveillance video clears McGovern and implicates BSO. "I don't believe someone who was falsely accused, as the evidence is going to show with great weight, should be incarcerated just because they're homeless, and they're indigent," Defense Attorney Celine Abram-Schmitt said.
A witness, Roberto Aguilara, backed up McGovern's claim. "They come on top of him to beat, and they kept hitting and hitting and hitting. I think it's a long time, around two minutes," said Aguilara.
Now, McGovern wants to be released without posting $1,500 bond, which he does not have because he is homeless.
Because the public defender released the video to Channel 7, the sheriff is furious. "I know it's his job to defend the people that he represents, but it's also my job to investigate or to make sure that deputies are acting appropriately. I can't do that if I'm going to get blind-sided or surprise attacked with something like this," Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said.
"My obligation as the public defender is to represent poor people and homeless people, and after being in the court system for over 30 years, it has become clear, to almost anybody who is in the court system, that the police cannot and will not police themselves unless they know the whole community is watching," said public defender Howard Finkelstein.
In court Friday, the deputies testified that things escalated, and it turned into a violent arrest.
The judge ruled that he will let the pre-trial release committee interview McGovern and decide if he should be released through that program.
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