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A circuit court judge in Broward County has granted a defense motion for a judgment of acquittal and for a mistrial due to prosecutorial misconduct. The ruling applies to three Fort Lauderdale police officers accused of official misconduct and falsifying police reports about the Nov. 22, 2009, car chase that led to the arrest of Kenneth Post, 50, on charges of burglary and resisting arrest with violence. The officers reported that Post crashed his vehicle into their unmarked police car, ending a half-mile car chase.

The dispute focused on whether Post indeed hit the officers, or if they crashed into him first. A jury acquitted two of the officers on two counts of official misconduct, but were hung as to the third officer and other charges against the trio relating to false reporting.

The officers were never charged with violence against the suspect after the crash. However, during closing arguments prosecutor Tim Donnelly told jurors that the officers “beat the crap out of” Post when they arrested him. In delivering her judgement of acquittal, Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato said the prosecutors had changed the focus of the case and inflamed the jury:

For Mr. Donnelly to say, ‘well, they beat the crap out of him’ makes me wonder what this case was really about,” Imperato said Wednesday. “Is it about Mr. Post and whatever happened? Then these officers should have been charged with battery. They weren’t charged with that. They were charged with nine felonies each. And I don’t think there was a case to support that, and the court grants the motion for a [judgment of acquittal].

 On March 1, the Sun Sentinel reported that the Broward County State Attorney’s Office is appealing Judge Imperato’s decision.

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