Up in Arms: When Self-Defense During a Trespassing Turns into a Gunpoint Arrest in Pompano Beach, Florida. Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorneys share BSO Body Camera footage.
Scott* was headed to work, just like any other morning.
While walking to his car in Pompano Beach, Scott got into an argument with a traffic control worker outside his house who was putting up construction signs around the development. Noticing the argument, two other construction workers came over to see what was going on. The three men were rude and nasty to Scott, but they parted ways and Scott more or less forgot about the incident.
Things escalated the next morning.
Scott left home about 8:50 a.m. to head to work when a car stopped on the street and blocked him in his own driveway.
The same man from the day before got out of the car. Soon after, the other two workers walked up. The three men converged around Scott’s car, yelling and screaming at him. Scott was already inside of his car, but got out to address the situation.
After a few minutes of yelling, Scott got back into his car and tried to drive away. As he was pulling out, the three men walked onto his property, throwing their hard hats on the ground and getting aggressive. The men tried to aggravate Scott and get him to leave his car.
Scott didn’t know what to do. He felt threatened. In self-defense, Scott got out of his car, again. But this time, he had his gun with him.
Scott tried to rack his gun, but he didn’t do it properly because he was shaking and terrified. As he racked the gun, it jammed and three bullets fell on the ground.
The three men laughed at Scott and called him names. Amused by the situation, the men walked away and Scott got back in his car.
Normally, Scott keeps his gun securely encased in a gun case in his car. Because he was rushing to work and coming off of the adrenaline of the event, Scott just put his gun in the mesh pocket on the back of the driver’s seat. Then, he was at work for the entire day. When he left work, he forgot about his gun in the back-seat pocket.
A Shoddy Investigation & a Gunpoint Arrest in Broward County
Unbeknownst to Scott, the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) was investigating the case all day. After Scott left for work, the three men who instigated the incident called the cops. During their investigation, the police officers found out Scott’s license was suspended.
One block from his Pompano Beach home, police officers surrounded Scott’s car with M4 assault rifles, yelling at and inciting fear in Scott.
Scott immediately started telling the cops about what happened, but the cops shut him down. Police told him that they were arresting him because of his suspended license, and they weren’t going to talk about it any more.
“You’re under arrest, it’s just that simple. I told you you’re under arrest for a [suspended] driver’s license - I didn’t ask any questions about anything,” an policeman can be heard saying to Scott in an officer’s body camera footage.
Police automatically believed what the three men told them earlier and didn’t let Scott make his case. This resulted in an unfair and dishonest investigation by BSO.
Scott was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm.
In reality, Scott’s license was only suspended due to a clerical error. Turns out, Scott paid for a ticket, but then the clerk didn’t check the box off correctly. Even though the suspension was not his fault, the police officers used it as a reason to pull Scott over a block from his house to arrest him.
He only wanted to defend himself
Scott is a 45-year-old blue collar worker who’s never been arrested before in all his life. He was petrified. He never intended to hurt any of the workers (and he didn’t), but he reacted out of fear and in self-defense when he pulled his gun out. He only wanted to defend himself. He was afraid of being charged with a felony, as that could affect his job and reputation.
How Scott Found Rossen Law Firm & How We Got His Felony Charges Dismissed
Scott’s mom found our firm online and hired us as Scott’s criminal defense attorneys immediately. She came with him to the first consultation.
The day Scott got out of jail, he looked around his neighborhood to see if anyone had surveillance cameras. He saw that his neighbor directly across the street had two cameras.
Unfortunately, the camera that would’ve captured the entire incident wasn’t plugged in. The second camera showed about 95% of the incident, but the video file could not be downloaded. Problem solving, Scott took a video of the security camera footage on his cell phone. The surveillance camera’s footage proved the three men had committed trespassing (at minimum), and committed a burglary (at maximum).
Rossen Law Firm also obtained body camera video footage from the police officers who did the investigation. Because the workers called the police to the scene after Scott left for work, the videos showed how the police officers rushed to a judgment of Scott.
The police made no attempts to find surveillance videos of the incident. The body cams also showed the officers talking badly about Scott and siding with the three workers.
Rossen Law Firm took the body camera and surveillance video evidence to the case filing department, and the case filer agreed to drop the aggravated assault charge. But he didn’t want to drop the concealed weapon charge. He claimed Scott failed to put the gun back into his lock box, even though he had all day to do so.
We argued that Scott did what any normal person would do when put in a stressful situation. But the case filer wouldn’t budge.
As we worked on Scott’s case, the Broward Sheriff’s Office filed a risk protection order in an attempt to take away Scott’s gun. BSO claimed Scott was dangerous.
We talked to BSO’s lawyer and showed her the surveillance videos, and she had the risk protection order dismissed immediately. We also put pressure on the sheriff’s office and went to the case filer’s supervisor to show her the evidence. The supervisor agreed with us, and dismissed the concealed weapons charge.
The Final Outcome: All Charges Dismissed
In the end, the State dismissed both charges. The charges of aggravated assault with a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm were both dismissed for Scott.
Now, we’re in the process of expunging Scott’s record.
When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Here at Rossen Law Firm, we take a different approach to criminal defense. In fact, we don’t even like to use the word “criminal.” We’re here for when bad things happen to good people, like Scott.
If you, or anyone you know needs a criminal defense or DUI defense attorney, please don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a free strategy session with Adam and Manny to learn about how we’ll work to defend you.
*Scott is not the defendant's real name.