Friday, June 22, 2007

Jury finds police officer not guilty
of beating homeless man

A jury found an Orlando police officer not guilty of battery in the beating of a homeless man during a trespassing arrest two years ago.

After listening to three days of testimony, it took the jury 2½ hours to find Officer Ed Michael not guilty. Michael bowed his head and sobbed openly in court as the jurors confirmed, one by one, that not guilty was his or her true verdict.

The jury obviously believed Michael's story that the trespassing suspect swung a loose handcuff at him and believed that the officer felt threatened enough by that that he had a right to level four or five forceful punches on the suspect's head to protect himself.

All the experts testified that the fair standard to judge the officer was whether he perceived a threat and whether his response was reasonable.

Read the Orlando Sentinel article here. See previous post here and check out the comment -- a statement by the Fraternal Order of Police entitled: "Jury Understands, Prosecutor Doesn't."


At 9:51 PM, Blogger John C said...

Remarkable story. I've had the chance of becoming friends with two people diagnosed with PS. Every story has two sides involving this one instance.

Local law enforcement agencies having officers patrolling areas with unsheltered people experiencing homelessness would benefit from increased immersion in CIT training than simply attending a classload of 40 or whatever hours certifies them as 'knowledgeable'. The benefit is that this training carries over in response to any violent crime call elsewhere throughout the community.

Was there an incident of too much force used in this officer apprehending and placing someone in custody who was committing an offense? Only a higher power can say. What we are left with is how better apprehension tactics can be improved for the sake and safety of officers, those whose duty it is to apprehend, and those impacted by aftermaths from these instances.

The short ditty version: Better cop training for both THEIR sake and safety as well as the safety and sake of those they are sworn to serve, protect, and at times apprehend. This situation could have easily been any call involving any other resident of the community who perceived THEY were exercising THEIR rights, freedoms, and liberties.

I feel for both parties and their families in what they've had to go through almost the last two years.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You infer this is the norm for homeless persons in Orlando who encounter the police. You also infer that police officers are not trained or trained inadequately. Your inferences are not correct. In fact, it was learned that Mr. Goff (the homeless person) was mentally ill. The police were sent to a church to remove him after the pastor gave him food and became scared of him. It all went down hill from there. I don't think any additional CIT training would have helped in this situation. The homeless person was in an irrational state of mind. I was in court for the trial so I could say I heard testimony first hand.

The entire scenario is unfortunate. Both for Mr. Goff and for Officer Michael. Even more so for the community. Now, it appears the police are at odds with the state attorney's office because of this.

After hearing what I heard, I have to agree with the Fraternal Order of Police in that this was an over zealous prosecutor.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Jacqueline Dowd said...

The part I'm still having trouble with is that this guy was beaten so badly that he sustained permanent brain damage.


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