Longform

Deputy Do-Wrong

Page 7 of 7

The critical factor, Perry claimed, was Gomez's swinging around and hitting his arm with such force that the gun went off.

If that happened, asked the investigators, why didn't Perry tell anybody that night that Gomez had hit his arm? Perry responded that he was told "by basically from lieutenant colonels to sergeants that showed at the scene to keep my mouth shut and say nothing until my attorney got there."

Although too late for Gomez, BSO fired Perry in February 2005 for, among other violations, interfering with an investigation and untruthfulness. In the fall of 2004, Perry had pulled into the parking lot of the Booby Trap, a Pompano Beach strip club. From the driver's seat of his squad car, Perry had asked a stripper to take two pictures of her vagina using a cell phone camera, which he then carried away. The stripper told investigators that Perry had told her during the course of the internal affairs probe that she should answer no questions about the incident.

Even after Perry no longer worked for BSO, however, his transgressions revisited the agency. He now stands charged with official misconduct and perjury in a case that involved several other deputies and a cover-up of a collision of his cruiser in November 2003.

Investigators asked Perry why he didn't call in to dispatch immediately after the crash, as policy requires. Perry replied: "I, I, I just froze up. I was shocked that I was hit. I was angry. I had tunnel vision." The statement, it later turned out, was a complete fabrication.

The cover-up was discovered a year later after one of the deputies involved unwittingly confessed on tape. He'd stopped a driver and conducted a DUI assessment that was recorded. Apparently forgetting that the audio-video device was still on, the deputy began chattering to a colleague about the time he and Perry had chased after a stolen car — even after being ordered to stop the pursuit. Perry had passed the stolen car at about 50 mph on a city street, pulled in front of it, and was rammed. The stolen car zoomed away, and the deputies involved gathered elsewhere to get their story straight. Once the tape was reviewed, the case blew wide open.

Although Perry's credibility as a witness is gone, BSO has continued to litigate, even stall the Gomez case. In late April, a federal court judge sanctioned BSO's attorney for not providing documents requested by Kubiliun. BSO's attorney, Bruce Jolly, declined to comment about Perry for this article.

"Germán Gomez should be taken care of for the rest of his life," Kubiliun says, "because there was no reason for this officer to have been hired or even been on the force that night. He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time — and when I say the wrong place, that was in front of Lewis Perry."

Gomez says he's angry about what happened to him, but his almost childlike demeanor doesn't convey that.

"To remember exactly what happened is difficult for me," he says, with a sad smile. "God has obviously saved my life."

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Wyatt Olson
Contact: Wyatt Olson