A Broward deputy who roughed up a suspect who refused to hand over her driver’s license during a Pompano Beach assault investigation was within his rights when he opened the suspect’s car door to arrest her, a judge ruled Thursday.
The decision by Broward Circuit Judge Peter Holden means the case against Kianna Cooper, 28, will proceed for now. Cooper is accused of assaulting Deputy Steven Davis on May 7, 2022, in a confrontation captured largely on the deputy’s bodycam footage.
Holden relied on more information than provided on the video, finding that Davis was responding to a report of an assault and that he had bystanders pointing to the defendant as the person who committed the assault.
Cooper had been in an argument with several bystanders over her attempt to hold multiple parking spaces at the beachside lot on the 300 block of North Pompano Beach Boulevard.
Holden noted that the deputy asked Cooper for her ID four times, and state law requires the driver of a motor vehicle to produce a license when a law enforcement officer demands it.
Defense lawyer Stephen Melnick had argued that Cooper did not know why she was being stopped and was not given an adequate opportunity to comply before Davis forced her door open and the physical confrontation began. He wanted Holden to suppress the evidence gathered once Davis opened Cooper’s door.
Holden refused, finding that Davis had the right to arrest Cooper once she repeatedly refused to cooperate with his investigation, whether she knew what he was investigating or not.
But Holden stopped short of endorsing what Davis did after he opened Cooper’s door. “That’s where the court has some issues,” he said.
Late last week, defense lawyer Melnick and prosecutor Lindsay Carrier received evidence from another Pompano Beach woman accusing Davis of manhandling her during an arrest. That information was not presented at Thursday’s hearing, but Melnick promised it would be if the case continues.
Cooper is due back in court on Oct. 19.
Rafael Olmeda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4457.