A Broward County jury acquitted 31-year-old Steven Poherence, a Fort Lauderdale police officer, of a misdemeanor charge of battery on Monday, December 12. If found guilty, he would've faced up to a year in jail.
The incident happened on May 31, 2020, where Poherence was recorded pushing over a then-19-year-old woman to the ground during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd. Reports say the officer was responding to a call from a fellow officer who said a crowd of demonstrators started surrounding him and pushing a car near Broward County Main Library.
Prosecutors called Poherence's action an "unnecessary push" and a "crime" during closing arguments, while his defense attorneys argued the woman's raised arms were close to their client's firearm. Video evidence wasn't clear on if the teenage protestor ever made contact before Poherence shoved them.
"He may have touched (the protester), but no one was injured," Michael Dutko, Poherence's attorney, said.
The acquitted police officer was on unpaid administrative leave since the incident, but it's not clear if he'll try to get reinstated with back pay.