In recent days, four Fort Lauderdale Police officers have been fired for allegedly sending racist texts and emails to each other, as well as making a parody video mocking African-Americans.
In light of the officers’ firing, the Broward Public Defender, Howard Finkelstein, is seeking review of over 100 cases involving these disgraced officers.
Any signs of racism exhibited by police officers who patrol and enforce the law in minority neighborhoods may lead to pretextual stops and false arrests.
With these allegations, the credibility of these racist cops would be virtually non-existent. The reasons these officers have given in their probable cause affidavits for stopping individuals and making arrests is now called into question.
Upon review of these cases, it may be legally possible to vacate old pleas and convictions based upon the newly discovered evidence that calls into question the constitutionality of the arrests these officers have made.
Considering it’s a matter of public record, the ex-officers who were fired are James Wells, Jason Holding, and Christopher Sousa. A fourth officer, Alex Alvarez, resigned.
While most police officers are not racist by nature, many develop racist tendencies or beliefs over the course of their careers. This may be a result of the neighborhoods they patrol, presuming that people of a certain color are more likely to commit crime.
I have gone through all of my cases, as I’m sure many Broward criminal defense attorneys have. If you have an open case involving any of these officers, it is important to notify your attorney or contact one if you are not represented. If you have closed out a case involving any of these officers, you should contact an attorney right away. There may be a sufficient legal basis for vacating an old plea or conviction.
Eric Matheny is a Miami criminal lawyer and Broward criminal lawyer.