FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – A longtime Broward Sheriff’s Office employee is taking aim at his boss — Broward Sheriff Scott Israel — in a whistleblower lawsuit filed in Broward County Circuit Court. Deputy Jeffrey Kogan, formerly a Homicide Detective, alleges that he was demoted to a road patrol position because he reported misconduct by a Fort Lauderdale Police Canine Officer.
According to the lawsuit, on April 4, Kogan and BSO homicide detectives were closing in on a murder suspect — Walter Hart. Hart was arrested for stabbing Keema Gooding to death the day before. The BSO report on the case indicates that information was developed revealing that Hart might be holed up at a home in Fort Lauderdale and FLPD officers along with Sheriff’s Office investigators prepared to make the arrest. What happened next is the basis for Kogan’s lawsuit.
According to the official BSO report and a separate report written by the Fort Lauderdale Police Canine Officer, Hart attempted to flee the residence. The FLPD report adds more detail saying that Hart, “chose to fight officers to escape. (Hart) kicked, punched and pushed officers to escape. Only after the use of a police K-9 dog was (Hart) taken into custody.”
But according to Kogan that didn’t happen. Kogan’s lawsuit claims that Fort Lauderdale officers were waiting in the backyard of the home to detain Hart and that Kogan and the FLPD Canine Officer went around back of the home together once they received word “that Hart was apprehended.”
In the lawsuit, Kogan said the suspect Hart was “sitting on the ground on near the rear door with his hands behind his back. He was not resisting any officers or being combative in any way. (Kogan) then witnessed the FLPD Canine Officer unnecessarily deploy his canine, who bit the suspect on his right arm.”
The lawsuit says Kogan told his superiors what happened and an investigation began. But the lawsuit says Kogan was taken out of the homicide rotation and was not allowed to continue investigating homicides. Eventually, the lawsuit says Kogan was told by Captain Rafael Perez “that homicide was a specialized unit and that (Kogan) did not have a right to be there. Capt. Perez further stated that if the situation involving the FLPD made (Kogan) feel uncomfortable he was free to put in a transfer request.”
The lawsuit says Kogan was transferred to Pompano Beach Road Patrol. Sheriff Scott Israel said he couldn’t comment directly on Kogan’s allegations but explained that a transfer such as that is not unusual.
“The officer was transferred,” Israel told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “It’s a lateral transfer. As you know the rank structure at the Broward Sheriff’s Office we have deputies and detectives, it’s the same position.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Israel, who worked for more than two decades at Fort Lauderdale PD, has hired “countless” employees from Fort Lauderdale Police. The suit also says several officers mentioned in the lawsuit also worked for Fort Lauderdale Police. But Israel said his time with Fort Lauderdale Police would never influence his decisions at the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“Every decision I make and command staff makes is made regarding public safety,” Israel said. “We do everything around public safety and we want to make sure that when we make decisions what’s best affecting the Broward County resident and the member of the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The fact that I was a Fort Lauderdale officer and this lawsuit involves Fort Lauderdale officers is just inconsequential.”
Kogan’s lawsuit says the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident with the Canine Officer and that Kogan has given statements to authorities regarding the Canine Officer’s actions.