Trial for police officer who pushed a woman during BLM protests in Fort Lauderdale begins today
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Black Lives Matter is an activist movement that began four years ago with a mission to build local power and intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. The movement additionally gained momentum after the murder of George Floyd, who died during an arrest after being accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill in a store. The responding officer, Derek Chauvin, had his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes, eventually resulting in his death. The now-former officer was sentenced to 22 years in prison for Floyd’s death.
This case became a stark example of police brutality and spurred demands for racial equity in hundreds of cities, with protests and demonstrations lasting an extended period of time.
During one of those protests following George Floyd’s death, which was held on May 31, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, a protester was caught on video being shoved to the ground by a Fort Lauderdale police officer. This incident further sparked outrage at those fighting against racial inequity.
The officer, Steven Pohorence, who pushed the female BLM protester in her back or in the head while she was kneeling as he was walking past her, was charged with battery in connection with the 2020 incident and is scheduled to stand trial today.
Defense attorneys requested that Miami-Dade police Major Carlos Gonzalez, who is in charge of the Miami-Dade Public Safety Training Institute, be allowed to testify as an expert witness on the use of force by Pohorence. The judge decided to allow Gonzales to testify before a jury today.
The attorney for Pohorence asserts that his client did not contribute to the escalation of tensions on that day, adding that the crowd was already hostile at that point.
Pohorence was suspended from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department after the incident. He faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine if found guilty on the charge.