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Broward County

This male plaintiff, in his 30’s, contended that the defendant Fort Lauderdale police officer wrongfully arrested him for loitering and prowling, pointed a gun at him and handcuffed him without probable cause, causing emotional damages and loss of standing in his community. The plaintiff also contended that he was maliciously prosecuted in an attempt to cover-up the original mistake made in arresting him. The City of Fort Lauderdale was named as a defendant on a vicarious liability theory. The defendants argued that the actions of the arresting officer were reasonable considering the circumstances surrounding the early morning arrest. The plaintiff testified that he was a businessman visiting Fort Lauderdale from the West Coast of Florida to attend a boat show with his friend. The plaintiff said that he was a registered guest at the Embassy Suites Hotel and was walking in a public area inside the hotel when three of the defendant City’s police officers approached him with guns drawn, whereupon they handcuffed him. The plaintiff testified that he showed the officers his identification, provided his fourth floor room key and explained that he was walking to the parking lot to check on his car. The plaintiff said that he told the police he was carrying a concealed handgun and exhibited his permit to carry the weapon.

The police officers confirmed with the hotel management that the plaintiff was a guest of the hotel and checked with the plaintiff’s friend, who was in the plaintiff’s room with a woman, according to the plaintiff. The plaintiff was arrested for loitering and prowling, taken to the police station for booking and released less than two hours later. The case was tried and the plaintiff was acquitted. The plaintiff’s police procedures expert testified that the defendant’s officers did not follow acceptable police procedure in arresting the plaintiff. The defendant officer testified that the plaintiff was observed on the eighth floor of the hotel and was acting suspiciously. When the plaintiff saw two police officers ascending to the eighth floor in a glass elevator, the plaintiff got on another elevator and went down, according to the defendant’s testimony. The officer also testified that he felt that the plaintiff was carrying a gun and could be dangerous. Based on all the circumstances, the defendant testified he had a "hunch" that the plaintiff was involved in an illegal activity. The defendant’s police procedures expert testified that the officer’s actions were reasonable and that use of the gun was warranted for the officer’s protection. The jury found for the plaintiff in the amount of $________. Fontaine vs.

City of Fort Lauderdale, et al. Case no. 89-________-13; Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld, 3-11-92. Attorney for plaintiff: C. Edward McGee, Jr. from Fort Lauderdale; Attorney for defendants: Richard McCully from Gunther & Whitaker in Fort Lauderdale. Plaintiff’s police procedure expert: Donald Schultz from Boca Raton.

Defendant’s police procedure expert: William Bopp from Fort p 7 3 Lauderdale.

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