The Broward Sheriff’s Office has agreed to pay $390,000 to a deputy who complained about the unnecessary use of force by Fort Lauderdale police in the 2013 arrest of murder suspect Walter Hart.
Deputy Jeffrey Kogan, an 18-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, continues to work with the agency out of Pompano Beach. The settlement represents attorney fees plus what Kogan would have earned on the job had he been promoted four years ago.
According to his attorney, Tonja Haddad Coleman, Kogan passed a rigorous test in 2015 that should have entitled him to a promotion to the rank of sergeant.
But he was demoted from homicide detective to road patrol in 2013 after he complained about the April 2013 arrest of Hart, who was charged with the murder of Keema Gooding.
Hart was ultimately convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison.
Kogan accused a Fort Lauderdale police officer of siccing a K-9 on Hart after he had complied with his arrest. “It was my perception that the use of the dog was not necessary, ” Kogan said after winning his initial lawsuit in 2015. “I told the two people I thought needed to know — my supervisor and the prosecutor.”
Under the leadership of Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, Kogan fought to be reinstated to the rank of detective. He won in court, but his case was appealed and reversed due to alleged juror misconduct, sending it back to Broward Circuit Judge Sandra Perlman.
The retrial was set for jury selection this month, but politics intervened, and Kogan believes that made all the difference.
Israel was removed from office in January by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who faulted the former sheriff for his agency’s handling of the fatal shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year. His replacement, Gregory Tony, came from the Coral Springs Police Department, and quickly replaced many of the top brass installed by Israel since his election in 2012.
“Everybody who was involved before was originally from Fort Lauderdale,” Kogan said Thursday. “They’re all gone now.”
The judge sent attorneys into mediation last month, said Haddad Coleman.
“I believe that the new sheriff and the new general counsel played a large role in our ability to settle this matter,” she said.
Kogan took a test in 2015 to qualify for a promotion to sergeant. According to court documents that were not disputed, he placed 26th of 138 candidates eligible for promotion. The top 40 candidates were promoted — except for Kogan, his lawyer said.
“We are pleased that both sides were able to come to an amiable resolution that avoided the costs and uncertainties of continued litigation,” said Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman Wright.