FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A mistrial has been declared in the trial of a former Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy accused in a road rage incident.
After opening statements and witness testimony on Tuesday, the first day of Paul Pletcher’s trial, Wednesday’s proceedings never quite got off the ground. The jury was not brought in during the morning hours because of a last-minute deposition of a former Ft. Lauderdale police officer. The court recessed around 12:30 p.m. for lunch. When court resumed around 1:30 p.m., Circuit Judge Michael Usan said he had a family emergency and had to leave.
Pletcher’s defense immediately moved for a mistrial to which the prosecution didn’t object. Circuit Judge Martin Bidwell, who took over after Usan left, granted the mistrial. The next hearing on the matter is set for January 22nd.
Pletcher was captured on cell phone video in a confrontation with a woman he had pulled over back in 2011.
At the time, Pletcher was off-duty but driving a marked BSO patrol car.
He reportedly pulled Neyda Osario over after she allegedly had made a U-turn.
Prosecutors say, after a heated exchange, Pletcher reached into her vehicle and grabbed Osorio’s cell phone and then tried to destroy it.
Plantation police recovered the phone and were able to extract the cell phone video that shows Pletcher shouting at the woman to give up the phone.
On Monday Osario’s passenger that day, Selvin Guerra, testified that the two exchanged obscene gestures and that Pletcher made racial slurs.
“He told us go back to our country, stupid Latins,” Guerra said through a translator.
But Pletcher’s lawyer said he was within rights as a police officer to stop Osario and he was innocent.
“You’re going to see an absence of evidence,” defense attorney Al Milian told the jury.”There is no DNA and no fingerprints. And testimony will show he did not steal that cellphone.”
BSO fired Pletcher back in July 2012. If convicted of the charges, Pletcher faces a maximum 11 years in prison.