UPDATED: Lamberti in Pompano; Plantation Cop Opens Fire on Woman; City Buys Activist's Home
Intrepid Pulp researcher Lyn Evans found Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti at the Pompano City Commission last night and asked him a heavy question that involved Lamberti's threatened mass layoffs at BSO and Undersheriff Tom Wheeler and Lt. David Benjamin, both former Scott Rothstein chums. Let's go to the tape:
It's a good question if I don't say so myself, and you have to give Lamberti props for not only answering it (instead of ducking it like a certain state attorney we know) but also for making it to the meeting when at one point it looked as though he was going to be stuck in Tallahassee.
A BSO news release earlier in the day promised the layoffs in response to Pompano's potential decision to terminate its contract with BSO and start a new police department. Roughly 200 uniformed deputies showed up at last night's City Commission meeting to protest. Looks like the pressure worked, at least for now -- the city is back in talks with Lamberti and will issue yet another report in 30 days.
-- On Monday night, a Plantation cop fired a round into a car driven by a 59-year-old woman named Barbara Henry, injuring her.
She's lucky to be alive.
Henry's crime: Being confused and trying to get around the officer's patrol car.
It happened about 10:30 p.m. A robbery had just occurred at a Walgreens on Sunrise Boulevard, and police from both Sunrise and Plantation set up a perimeter trying to catch two suspects, according to sources.
Officer Miguel Lopez, 24, had his patrol car on Sunset Strip, blocking part of the road. Henry was driving her Ford Explorer slowly on the road and tried to maneuver around Lopez's patrol car. Lopez ran toward her car and may have stepped in front of it to stop it. Lopez reported that the driver's-side mirror hit him as he tried to stop her. So what does he do? Lopez pops a cap into the driver's-side window.
The window shattered with the
blast, driving glass into Henry's arm. She thought she'd been shot but learned otherwise when she was treated for her wounds at Plantation General Hospital. Lopez was put on administrative leave while the investigation continues.
It sounds to me like a law-abiding citizen, confused in traffic, was nearly killed by an overzealous cop. I'm sure he didn't mean to shoot at an innocent woman, but he did. You might expect that in Samarra, not Sunrise. Yet here's how the Sun-Sentinel brusquely reported it: "A Plantation police officer is on leave after shooting at the window of a driver who hit him while trying to skirt a crime perimeter, officials said."
See how it works? You read that it sounds like poor Barbara Henry was on a rampage. But she wasn't identified by police, so there was no chance for the newspaper to get the real story. The unidentified driver hit an officer while skirting a crime scene? Sounds like the driver deserved to be shot. I don't know if that lede paragraph was a reporter's editorialization or how it was really described to her (the officer's actual quote in the story is far less misleading). I just know it's not right.
So what are we left with, other than a traumatized woman? Well, because the shooting occurred in Sunrise, we have the Sunrise PD investigating a Plantation police shooting. That's odd right off the bat. I'll say now that it will be an outrage if the police charge Henry with a crime (battery on LEO or the like). Right now, the investigation continues, and I'll update when there's something new.
-- It wasn't enough that the City of Riveria Beach used the federal government to seize activist Fane Lozman's floating home (wrongfully, I believe). Yesterday, it bought the houseboat at auction, apparently for the sole purpose of destroying it.
When Lozman's home was being auctioned at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, a lawyer representing Riviera Beach put in the high bid to purchase the houseboat for the city. After a private citizen put in a bid for $4,000, the city's outside attorney bid $4,100 to take ownership of the boat. Lozman was there to watch it go down.
"Show me where a city has bid on the home of a citizen," said a none-too-pleased Lozman. "The city sent their lawyer and bid on it and now owns my floating residential structure. Why did they buy it, and on whose authority did they buy it?"
Those are questions I'm going to get answered today. The houseboat was ordered to be sold by U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas after federal agents seized it from the municipal marina and towed it to Miami. It was clearly an act -- perhaps a decisive act -- of retaliation by the city against Lozman, who has effectively fought the city's redevelopment plans and exposed corruption in the town.
The city first harassed Lozman with police and when that didn't work tried to evict him. Lozman, mainly because this is America, prevailed in court. It was one of the bright spots in what has been a saga of incredible political abuse. After that, the city changed the lease agreement Lozman had at the municipal marina to preclude his boat, which has no propulsion, from docking there. Lozman figured for another battle in state court, but the city called in the feds, and Dimitrouleas followed suit every step of the way right up to yesterday's auction.
Lozman is appealing Dimitrouleas' decisions, but the judge wouldn't grant him a stay on the sale pending the appeal. Instead, he ordered the auction immediately, and the city, astonishingly, bought Lozman's home.
The reason, Lozman believes, is clear.
"I think they did it just so they could destroy it so it could never come back again," he said. "It's vindictiveness, but where is the legal authority? Now they own it; what are they going to do with it? Where in the fuck did they get the legal authority to come to a federal auction and bid on a citizen's home? Now they have to store it, continue paying storage, and dispose of it. I think it's an abuse of public funds."
Lozman said the cost to destroy the boat properly would come to about $15,000. More on this as I learn it.
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in South Florida.