After surveillance video contradicts their report.
In the police report, it looked like an open-and-shut case: A Fort Lauderdale police officer responded to a complaint of a man blasting loud music in his back yard, the homeowner refused to turn it off and walked away when the officer tried to arrest him.
Winston Dudley was arrested on misdemeanor charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest without violence shortly before 9 p.m. Sept.18, 2010. He was released on bond the next day.
But prosecutors refused to file formal criminal charges and Dudley won a $30,000 settlement from the city of Fort Lauderdale after he produced a home security video that contradicted the officer's official report. Officer Daniel R. Gowans wrote in his police report that he could hear Dudley's music from seven houses away and had been called to the house on the 1300 block of Northwest 12th Street before for complaints of loud music. He said he asked Dudley, who was 50 at the time, to show him identification and told him to turn off the music. "Dudley laughed and stated 'I don't have to, get lost,'" Gowans wrote, adding that he asked Dudley again to shut off the music and give him his ID. "Dudley laughed again and started to drink his beer. I took Dudley by his left arm and advised him to place his hands behind his back. Dudley pulled away and started to walk into his residence … Dudley attempted to pull away and stated 'Get out of here, it's my house.'"
Dudley, who declined to be interviewed by the Sun Sentinel, immediately told his lawyer on the criminal case that he had videotape from a home security system he had installed on his property.
The video showed that, within seconds of the officers walking into his backyard, Dudley immediately stood up from his lounger, went into his house and turned the music down or off.
He came outside again and sat down on the end of the lounger while an officer shone a flashlight in his face and spoke to him. The video shows that, although he had some kind of container in his hand, he did not drink from it and did not walk away or pull away from the officer.
He was arrested about two minutes after officers first walked into his yard.
"To be hauled off in handcuffs in these circumstances, it's blatantly appalling, shocking and wrong," said Hugh Koerner, the attorney who filed the federal civil lawsuit on behalf of Dudley and negotiated the settlement. "Mr. Dudley is very fortunate that he had a videotape that supported his account of what happened. In a lot of these cases, it's one person's word against the police officer's, and most jurors in a criminal or civil trial are going to assume that law enforcement officers who are well-paid and well-trained are going to testify honestly," Koerner said.
He said he settled the case for $30,000 because Dudley wanted to put it behind him and get on with his life.
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