FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The mother and lawyer of a protester who was seen on cellphone video being pushed by a Fort Lauderdale Police officer are speaking out about the incident.
The 19-year-old’s mother, Danielle Casey, spoke to 7News on Tuesday after the video of her daughter being shoved by the officer went viral online. She said her daughter is too distraught at the moment to comment on the incident.
“To come around and to literally, blatantly shove her to the ground — that is not right,” Casey said. “She was treated wrongly for standing up for something that was right. They’re here to serve and protect, but they’re harming us.”
She was protesting outside the Second Street garage in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday afternoon when officer Steven Pohorence could be seen on video shoving her daughter as she kneeled on the ground.
“We are out here standing up for peace, for everyone to come together, and you display actions like this?” said Casey.
Moments later, another officer, later identified as Krystle Smith, appeared to remove Pohorence from the scene. Smith’s file is full of praise and recommends she receive a promotion.
“There was a second officer who immediately identified that this action was completely unacceptable and shoved that officer out of the way,” Joseph Madalon, the family’s attorney, said.
Witnesses at the demonstration said that was the moment when tensions rose between protesters and Fort Lauderdale Police.
The standoff went on for hours where agitators shot fireworks and threw bricks at officers, and police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Casey’s mother and Madalon spoke out one day after Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione held a news conference about the incident.
Maglione said at around the same time, another officer had her vehicle’s window smashed and that they are working to determine which event occurred first.
He also said he doesn’t believe the officer’s actions started any type of confrontation, but he said it’s very possible that the officer’s actions escalated the situation.
“It could have. That’s a reasonable conclusion,” Maglione said.
Casey said even if that was happening, this incident with her daughter shouldn’t have happened.
She also said although her daughter sustained minor physical injuries, she sustained emotional ones as well.
“My daughter has nightmares from this. She does not sleep,” said Casey.
“We’re working closely with the internal affairs investigation,” Joseph Madalon, the family’s lawyer, said. “We want to make sure they take all the appropriate disciplinary actions, and we’ll be with them side by side to assist them in their investigation and demand that the right things be done.”
Pohorence, who has been with the department since 2016, has since been suspended with pay while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducts an investigation into the incident.
7News has been able to obtain Pohorence’s personnel file where he has mostly received high praise.
He received a Life Saving award back in July. However, in October, he was sent to mandatory training to improve his interactions with the public, with an emphasis on public speaking.
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