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Ex-Beach Cop Charged In ATV Joyride Found Guilty Of Reckless Driving

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Jasmine Kripalani is a court producer for CBS4. Prior to joining...
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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A former Miami Beach police officer on trial for crashing his department-issued ATV and seriously injuring two people while impaired was found guilty of reckless driving Monday.

After just over two hours of deliberation, a jury found Derick Kuilan, 33, guilty of reckless driving with serious bodily injury and another, lesser count, of reckless driving.

Derick Kuilan, 33, was found guilty on two counts of reckless driving. (Source: Miami-Dade Corrections)

Derick Kuilan, 33, was found guilty on two counts of reckless driving. (Source: Miami-Dade Corrections)

He was found not guilty by the jury of two counts of driving under the influence and causing serious bodily harm.

Watch Lauren Pastrana’s report after the verdict, click here.

Kuilan remained stoic as the verdict was read. His attorney patted him on the back briefly. One of his loved ones wept in the courtroom.

“A career has been destroyed,” prosecutor David Gilbert said as he left the courtroom. “The lives of Ms. Nicanor and Mr. Almonte have been changed forever and as you can here, the families have been destroyed by what’s happened, by a thoughtless crime that can be avoided just by being more careful.”

Both sides wrapped their closings on Monday and the jury began deliberating at 4:08 p.m.

Watch Gary Nelson’s report prior to the verdict, click here

During the final day of testimony Monday, the defense’s toxicology expert appeared to boost the state’s case by testifying that there was no evidence the state mishandled the blood-alcohol sample taken at the scene.

A toxicologist testified Kuilan’s blood alcohol was .088 five hours after the collision. A second toxicologist for the state estimated that at the time of the crash Kuilan, who is 6’1″ and weighs approximately 200 pounds, had a blood alcohol of .155, nearly twice the legal limit.

“You have nothing to indicate the sample was improperly handled from the time it was taken from the defendant until it the time it was processed by your lab, is that correct,” prosecutor Gilbert asked defense toxicology expert Ben Kuslikis.

Kuslikis replied, “That is absolutely true, yes.”

Click Here for more on witnesses and experts who took the stand during the trial.

During closing arguments, Gilbert hammered the point that Kuilan was impaired when the ATV accident occurred on the early morning hours of July 4, 2011.

A toxicologist testified Kuilan’s blood alcohol was .088 five hours after the collision. A second toxicologist for the state estimated that at the time of the crash Kuilan, who is 6’1″ and weighs approximately 200 pounds, had a blood alcohol of .155, nearly twice the legal limit.

Gilbert described the injuries received by the victims, Kitzie Nicanor and Luis Almonte, recounting surgery that left Almonte with a titanium rod in his right leg and clamps in his hip. Nicanor underwent multiple surgeries, which left her with metal plates in her leg. The accident also caused her to have her spleen removed and suffer permanent brain injury.

“She can’t remember things. She has uncontrollable emotions, she can’t work,” prosecutor Gilbert told jurors.

He added that Kuilan exhibited bad judgment in taking a bride-to-be whom he had met at a bachelorette party for a pre-dawn joyride on his department-issued ATV.

“They’re flying! It’s hang-on-tight time,” Gilbert said in describing the on-duty ride on the sand. “He tells her to hang on tight and he hits the accelerator.”

Kuilan was driving “in the pitch black,” Gilbert said, adding, “you have two witnesses who said his lights were not on.”

During the closing arguments, defense attorney Evan Hoffman said prosecutors were basing their case on emotions.

“They will play on your sympathy and your emotions,” Hoffman told jurors. “They’re going to want to find him guilty of reckless driving, even though his driving wasn’t reckless. They have to prove the case beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.”

Kuilan was fingerprinted and handcuffed in the courtroom before being taken to jail to await sentencing.

“We knew he wasn’t guilty of DUI to begin with,” his attorney said. “As far as the reckless driving goes, we disagree, but we respect the jury and the work they put in.”

The ex-cop seemed confident in a photo posted on Instagram shortly before the verdict was announced.

In it, he’s posing with a friend in a courthouse hallway, making a similar face to the one seen in the picture snapped the night of the accident.

Nicanor says she still can’t work as a result of the brain damage she sustained.

“I don’t wish for anybody to go to jail but it’s just, he had to get something,” she told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana.

While she was pleased with the verdict, she said something was still missing.

“I was at least expecting an apology. I just wish him the best and you know hope he gets through this. I got through it. He can get through it too,” Nicanor said.

Perhaps she will get that apology when Kuilan is sentenced, should he choose to speak at that time.

He faces up to 5 years in prison.

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