When Clausel Pierre pulled into a parking space at a Deerfield Beach shoe store in January 2011, he didn't expect to get into an altercation with an off-duty BSO officer for not giving up the spot. But according to a lawsuit last month, that's exactly what happened, so he's suing the cop for the wrongful arrest that caused him physical pain and set in motion years of legal headaches to clear his name.
Detective Frank Maio allegedly attempted to park his vehicle in a spot in front of the 888 Shoes where he did off-duty security work. But not before Pierre parked his SUV in it first. And when Pierre got out to do some shopping, Maio ordered him to move. But Pierre refused, saying there was no reason to move -- the spot wasn't reserved, so why should he?
That's when Maio began to make an arrest for no reason, says Pierre's attorney, Christopher Brown.
"There was no underlying charge for the arrest," Brown tells New Times. "The spot was open to the public. It's a typical thing: Two people see a spot; two people go for it. But in this case, one of those people was a police officer with the power to arrest."
Pierre couldn't believe he was being arrested simply for getting a parking spot, so when Maio tried to apprehend him, he called 911. Below is a recording of the call, which Maio was clearly unhappy about. Pierre says Maio caused him severe pain during the arrest, including some broken bones.
The lawsuit contends that Maio repeatedly hit Pierre, put his life in danger, and caused him severe injuries. Maio also charged him with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.
But Pierre didn't just back down. After getting booked and jailed, he fought the charges against him over the next two years. And eventually, the charges were dropped.
"The judge threw them out after it was revealed that the officer had too many conflicting statements of the account," says Brown. He adds that during a deposition, Maio claimed he was already in the process of backing his vehicle into the spot and Pierre stealthily swooped in to confiscate the parking space. But Brown says that was proved to be impossible based on the size of the two vehicles.
Despite the charges getting dropped and the reason for the initial arrest possibly illegal, BSO didn't acknowledge any wrongdoing on behalf of one of its deputies. In a letter to Brown sent in July, a claims investigator said they found BSO had no legal liability for what happened.
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Pierre's lawsuit says they do and he's owed money for the time, pain, and financial cost of the parking lot burden.
Click on the next page to read the lawsuit...