FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A South Florida jury sided Monday with a white Florida police officer accused of shoving a kneeling Black woman to the ground during a protest more than two years ago.
Broward County jurors acquitted Fort Lauderdale officer Steven Pohorence, 31, of a battery charge, the Sun Sentinel reported. The jury was made up of three men, two of whom were Black, and three women. The misdemeanor was punishable by up to a year in jail.
Prosecutors said Pohorence shoved a then-19-year-old protester who was kneeling during one of the demonstrations that occurred across the U.S. following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Prosecutor Chris Killoran said Pohorence was frustrated during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in downtown Fort Lauderdale when he pushed the woman, which was an unnecessary and criminal overreaction.
Defense lawyer Michael Dutko said the woman’s raised arms were at the level of the officer’s gun, and video evidence was unclear whether the officer and the woman ever actually made contract.
Pohorence had been placed on administrative leave without pay after being charged. It was not immediately clear if or when he would return to work.